On June 15, 2012, Barack Obama endorsed a new policy from the Department of Homeland Security aimed at making the nation’s immigration policy fairer and more efficient — by removing the threat of deportation for young people who are low enforcement priorities. You can read or see his remarks on the White House website.
We at Betts and Associates are excited that this will mean positive steps are coming regarding immigration reform in America. We believe that for people brought to the United States as children the United States is their home and they should be able to stay in the country and not be forced to return to a place about which they know little and maybe do not speak the native language. However, we also understand that some people are concerned that signing up for this new program could expose themselves or their non-eligible family members to deportation.
Having legal representation is always a good idea when your liberty may be at risk.
Below are several reasons that hiring an attorney may be in your best interest.
1. The New Policy Is NOT Immunity
Obama said, “Now, let’s be clear — this is not amnesty, this is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people.”
Although it is Betts and Associates’ opinion that this is new policy is benign, there is fear of what the list might be used for in the future. It is not designed to give the government a list of illegal immigrants or undocumented workers so that two years from now the government can round up and deport people. But because there is no immunity guaranteed, having a lawyer provides piece of mind that if the lists were used for unintended purposes you would have a lawyer representing you
2. A lawyer can advise you if you wondering if applying makes sense in your particular circumstances or if you need help understanding any of the legal language.
The memorandum issued by Janet Napolitano has a great deal of legal technicality in it. Courts and lawyers use language differently from our every day speech. Also, courts require proof to be in particular formats or sometimes they will reject the documents offered.
Maybe you are unsure of one of the following:
- How are the words “under” and “above” legally interpreted? (This might matter for you if you are 30 or came when you were 16.)
- What does “continuously resided” mean legally? What if I left the United States for a short trip? Would that count against me?
- How do I prove I was in the country on the day of the memo? Do I need to prove this?
- What if I am not currently in school? Should I enroll? What if I was enrolled in school on June 15, but I am not enrolled when I go to fill out the form?
- What if I am in the process of applying for or studying for my GED?
- How do I know if my criminal record contains a “felony” or “significant misdemeanor”? What if I have several minor charges? Could I get them expunged?
- What sort of proof do I need? Is a photocopy enough or do I need to have documents certified?
Having a lawyer gives you access to the answers to these questions. As of June 17, 2012 the actual government forms that would be presented have not even been issued. Nor have government guidelines been created. Lawyers are able to research and provide you legal advice based on related legal precedent. A lawyer would be required to answer the above questions with your specific circumstances in mind. By hiring Betts and Associates or any other lawyer, you are hiring someone to explain and advise you on these and other related legal issues. Betts and Associates is best able to assist Georgia residents because of proximity. However, Betts and Associates can advise and help people by phone and/or email in certain ways. Please see article “I want to hire Betts and Associates…” on this website for more information.
3. A lawyer would be bound by Attorney/Client Privilege from disclosing any information about undocumented family members of friends.
When you hire an attorney, you create an attorney-client privilege. This means that whatever you tell the attorney must be kept confidential by that lawyer. The lawyer cannot disclose to anyone the private details of your case, including but not limited to your immigration status, your family or friends’ immigration status, how you came to the United States, where you work or live. Your attorney can advise you as to whom and how you do disclose any of those details, including the federal government.
Such privilege does not exist between a prosecutor and citizen. That means that if you were to call up Homeland Security and ask questions, you would not be able to be as candid or forthright as you could with your own attorney. The person answering your questions would not be bound by the same rules of protection. You can feel safe that your own attorney would be acting in your best interest and only advise you to disclose information in a way that they believed benefitted you.
4. Employing an attorney now gives you an advantage if you were to ever need legal assistance in the future.
It is unclear what will happen if Mitt Romney is elected to office. It is unclear if Congress will seek to overturn this memo. It is unclear what will happen after a person is on the work permit for two years. For all of these reasons, lawyers will probably be needed to represent clients who participate in this program. Betts and Associates believe that the following defenses (and others) may be used in the event that the federal government attempts to use the information it receives because of this policy change:
- Fruit of the Poisonous Tree – in criminal law, the doctrine that evidence discovered due to information found through illegal search or other unconstitutional means (such as a forced confession) may not be introduced by a prosecutor. The theory is that the tree (original illegal evidence) is poisoned and thus taints what grows from it. For example, as part of a coerced admission made without giving a prime suspect the so-called “Miranda warnings” (statement of rights, including the right to remain silent and what he/she says will be used against them), the suspect tells the police the location of stolen property. Since the admission cannot be introduced as evidence in trial, neither can the stolen property. Read more…
- Promissory Estoppel – a false statement treated as a promise by a court when the listener had relied on what was told to him/her to his/her disadvantage. In order to see that justice is done a judge will preclude the maker of the statement from denying it. Thus, the legal inability of the person who made the false statement to deny it makes it an enforceable promise called “promissory estoppel,” or an “equitable estoppel.” Example: Bernie Blowhard tells Arthur Artist that Blowhard has a contract to make a movie and wants Artist to paint the background scenery in return for a percentage of the profits. Artist paints, and Blowhard then admits he needed the scenery to try to get a movie deal which fell through and there are no profits to share. Artist sues and the judge finds that Blowhard cannot deny a contract with Artist and gives Artist judgment for the value of his work. Read More…
- Entrapment – in criminal law, the act of law enforcement officers or government agents inducing or encouraging a person to commit a crime when the potential criminal expresses a desire not to go ahead. The key to entrapment is whether the idea for the commission or encouragement of the criminal act originated with the police or government agents instead of with the “criminal.” Entrapment, if proved, is a defense to a criminal prosecution. The accused often claims entrapment in so-called “stings” in which undercover agents buy or sell narcotics, prostitutes’ services or arrange to purchase goods believed to be stolen. The factual question is: Would Johnny Begood have purchased the drugs if not pressed by the narc? Read More…
- The Miranda Rule – the requirement, also called the Miranda warning, set by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona (1966) that prior to the time of arrest and any interrogation of a person suspected of a crime, he/she must be told that he/she has: the right to remain silent, the right to legal counsel, and the right to be told that anything he/she says can be used in court against him/her. The warnings are known as Miranda rights or just “rights.” Further, if the accused person confesses to the authorities, the prosecution must prove to the judge that the defendant was informed of these rights and knowingly waived them, before the confession can be introduced in the defendant’s criminal trial. The Miranda rule supposedly prevents self-incrimination in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Sometimes there is a question of admissibility of answers to questions made by the defendant before he/she was considered a prime suspect, raising a factual issue as to what is a prime suspect and when does a person become such a suspect? Read More…
All of these arguments would be available to anyone, but attorneys are ready to articulate these defenses on your behalf. If you were to find you needed an attorney several months or years from now, you would be able to contact the attorney who helped you fine the paperwork and that person would be available to advise you as to how to proceed.
5. Being unrepresented in legal proceedings is generally ill-advised.
Pro se litigants place themselves at a disadvantage when they face a courtroom situation. The court system was created by and run by lawyers. Non-experts are less able to navigate the system and less likely to achieve favorable outcomes. Though it is your right to self-representation, Betts and Associates does not believe pro see representation is in people’s best interest when their liberty is at stake.
Betts and Associates is a law practice in the State of Georgia. It operates out of two locations:
44 Broad Street, NW Suite 200 Atlanta, GA 30303 (404) 577-8888 and
201 Broad Street, Suite 400 Rome, GA 30161 (706) 235-7575
Its lawyers are admitted to the Georgia bar and qualified to practice law in federal courts. Betts and Associates is best able to assist Georgia residents because of proximity and status. However, Betts and Associates can advise and help people by phone and/or email in certain ways. Please see article “I want to hire Betts and Associates…” on this website for more information.