Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Immigration and Crime in California

Posted on: October 8, 2008 at 10:03 a.m.

San Francisco officials say a federal grand jury is investigating the city's policy of offering sanctuary to illegal immigrants. The probe focuses on whether the policy violates federal laws against harboring people who are in the U.S. illegally.

The city attorney says his office has hired a criminal defense lawyer to represent employees who might be questioned or asked for documents. Mayor Gavin Newsom says he will cooperate with the investigation.

The San Francisco law prohibits the use of city funds to help enforce federal immigration law or question individuals about their immigration status. About 80 other cities and five states have similar policies.

Immigration and criminal activity are controversial enough as separate issues, but when combined, emotions are hightened. A frequently encountered issue with Immigration proceedings and criminal law is an old conviction, or probation case, which has raised a red flag with the INS. Often the INS will begin deportation proceedings 10-15 years later, against someone who has led a trouble-free life for many years, working, raising a family, and being an overall model citizen.

There are numerous legal mechanisms to vacate, or attack, a prior conviction. We have successfully used a "Writ of Corum Nobis" in situations where clients were not advised of all immigration consequences at the time their plea was taken. Another option is to attempt to re-negotiate the old charges with the prosecutor's office, to seek an agreement that the crime of moral turpitude is dismissed, and substitute in its place an offense that is more innocuous in the eyes of the INS.

Alternatively, if you or loved one is facing an open criminal case in Southern California, a conviction may cause direct and grave consequences to one's immigration status, often leading to deportation proceedings. The INS guidelines are often very complex and our criminal defense attorneys frequently confer with immigration law specialists to properly advise clients. Before going to court, our Los Angeles criminal lawyers discuss with clients their immigration status. The Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP have represented numerous clients in criminal matters involving immigration.

Tagged as: immigration consequences


Ashley Stein on November 28, 2008 at 12:01 p.m. wrote:

I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with the previous comment. The cost of finding, holding, and deporting these law-abiding immigrants far outweighs the benefits to our country. It seems unfair as well that the INS can wait up to 10-15 years to begin a the process of deportation, especially as this allows immigrants time to build a life in the United States which will be torn apart if they are then forced to leave. I also wonder how the INS can wait so long to begin the proceedings, considering 10-15 years may be beyond the statute of limitations for some of the crimes these immigrants are accused of. If they are paying taxes as well as abiding by the law, it seems ridiculous to deport them, considering there is a significant percentage of American citizens who fail to pay their taxes each year. It is very important that immigrants are fully advised of the negative consequences of any plea in a criminal case, so that this issue can be avoided as much as possible.

Denise Vatani on October 15, 2008 at 1:37 a.m. wrote:

The fear and stigma that follows those that are in the United States illegally seems to have an adverse effect on their chances for a fair trial unless they're wise enough to seek legal advice and representation. I don't want my tax dollars spent on deporting mostly hard working individuals looking for a better life. I understand that the violent ones need to be dealt with but no need for over abundant government spending on jailing, prosecuting and deporting those that are just caught being here illegally. Our policy regarding our own citizens is the model we should use with the illegals and that is prosecute the guilty and leave the hard working individuals alone.

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