In the heat of the national debate over immigration and immigrant rights, it can be all too easy to gloss over the details of any particular case. In immigration law, however, every case is unique, and individuals’ stories deserve to be heard – both the bad and the good. A criminal defense professional can play an important role in making sure this happens.
Take, for example, a recent case from right here in Massachusetts. A man from Mexico had a job here doing landscaping work to support his family, including his children who have U.S. citizenship. As he was driving them to daycare, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials stopped him and placed him under arrest, charging him with re-entering the country after having been deported previously.
These are serious charges for any immigrant. They were complicated in this individual’s case by the fact that he has been deported and re-entered multiple times. Prosecutors also sought to focus attention on his prior convictions on DUI and drug charges, and his failure to appear in court on charges related to domestic violence.
Some were surprised, then, when a judge freed the defendant on bail despite his record, rather than order him held in custody while facing the threat of deportation. But as his attorney successfully argued in court, the man could not be considered a danger to his community. His reason for repeatedly re-entering the United States was to be with and financially support his family. His immigration status, his attorney noted, was not a legal justification for denying bail.
Being freed on bail is, of course, not a final resolution of the serious legal matters facing any immigrant dealing with criminal charges and the threat of deportation. But in the case above, the defendant’s attorney also noted that the man is in the process of applying for a type of visa that could allow for deferred action on his deportation if he cooperates with authorities. A criminal defense professional may be able to put forth multiple legal strategies in advocating for an immigrant defendant.