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Thousands of immigrants may be one mistake away from deportation

In November, the president signed an executive order that will purportedly allow millions of immigrants to remain here without fear of being detained by immigration officials. However, while it was stressed that only so-called criminals would face deportation, the definition of what crimes would qualify is reportedly not clearly defined. Even lawful permanent residents here in North Carolina may worry that their current status may not provide the legal protection they once expected.

One man who was a lawful permanent resident was threatened with deportation after he returned from a trip outside of the States. He had apparently been accused of committing a minor crime years earlier. Even though he was a lawful resident and was seeking citizenship, he fought a years-long battle to remain in the United States. He had been residing here for approximately 10 years when the order against him was issued.

This man was successful in his fight to remain here -- but not without great monetary costs over several years. Unfortunately, thousands of other immigrants are not so successful when the government decides that they have violated a law and are detained. Often, the laws that were supposedly violated are laws of moral turpitude and are subject to loose interpretation. Additionally, so many of these immigrants do not speak English well nor do they have the financial resources required to provide a proper defense.

According to the figures released for last year, more than 200,000 immigrants were deported based on allegations of illegal activities. This number reflects a significant increase over the previous years. In light of the president's remarks concerning the government's promise to only remove those who have allegedly committed crimes, there may be millions of immigrants who will fear deportation for the smallest infractions. North Carolina residents who have concerns about their current legal status -- or similar issues -- can refer  to local resources that can help them determine the best resolutions pertinent to their circumstances.

Source: theatlantic.com, "My Brother Was Almost Deported", Edward Delman, Dec. 19, 2014

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