I am in Orlando today and tomorrow as part of my application process to join the CJA panel for the public defender. I am going through the process because I see many immigrants being prosecuted in federal court for illegal re-entry. The Trump Administration has made these a priority and the federal defender’s office is inundated with them. There are many reasons why you should hire an immigration attorney to defend your case in federal court. I will discuss some of them.
What’s Illegal Reentry?
Illegal reentry is a criminal offense under federal law. An immigrant may be prosecuted for that offense if he had been previously removed from the United States. The charge is under 8 USC 1326, which includes two elements:
1. A prior order of removal, denial of entry, or an order of exclusion
2. Been found in the United States without prior approval from the Attorney General of the United States
These two elements seem straightforward. However, there are many defenses to this charge, which a competent immigration attorney may know.
What Are the Possible Defenses to the Charge?
There are many possible defenses to the charge of illegal reentry. I will discuss some of them:
- A collateral attack on the previous removal order might be one avenue to take. As I discuss in this blog regularly, violations of due process are a common thing in removal proceedings. An unconstitutional removal order would unfairly put you in jeopardy of being removed from the United States.
- Citizenship in the United States may also be an avenue to successfully defending you against illegal reentry. A citizen of the United States may not be removed from the United States. A person who had derived citizenship from his parents, for example, may not be removed as an immigrant and thus can defend against this charge in federal court.
- Prior Authorization from the Attorney General may also be a defense to such charge of illegal reentry. The statute specifically states that such defense exists. Additionally, an immigrant may argue that such authorization may not be needed under the law at the time of his removal.
Why Should You Hire an Immigration Attorney to Defend You Against Illegal Reentry?
The answer to the question is really simple: a competent immigration attorney would have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of alien files in his career. The alien file, which includes your immigration petitions and history, could become of the most important evidence in your trial. A mentor once told me that an immigration attorney is well suited to defend these charges because they could find the needle in the haystack.
Call us today to discuss your options.