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home : nation / world : nation/world Sunday, November 19, 2017

5/16/2017 12:02:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
How The New Immigration Order Impacts The Hmong Community

By Macy Yang

Earlier this year President Trump signed a controversial executive order, which included, in part, a motivation to deport more immigrants, particularly those with criminal records, and those who are in the U.S. illegally. Since immigration law is already difficult to decipher for most, this new order from the White House has shaken up the Hmong community causing fear and confusion. Hmong Times reached out to the legal community to help answer some questions about this new order.

Hmong Times spoke with Pahoua Lor, an attorney from Fresno, California. Lor has been practicing law, including immigration law since 2009. She is a sole practitioner and has two office locations in California: Fresno and Merced.

Hmong Times: Does the President's Executive Order expand the powers of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities to cast a wider net to randomly deport immigrants?

Pahoua Lor: Part of Trump's executive order makes it a priority to subject non-citizens, who have been convicted of a criminal offense or anyone who poses a risk to public safety who is not a U.S. Citizen, to be removed from the United States even if you have lived here for a long time. This can include anyone that has abused a public benefits program such as welfare or individuals who have committed fraud or domestic violence.

Prior to Trump's administration individuals who were not a U.S. Citizen and posed a risk to the U.S. were the subject of deportation. However, under Trump's administration, he made it a priority for ICE authorities and enforcement agencies to actively look and deport immigrant individuals who have committed a crime - sometimes based on minor offenses that happened a long time ago - which is the cause of the fear and frenzy in the immigrant community.

HT: What is the ramification for green card holders?

PL: For some green card holders that travel out of the country for vacation, returning to the United States under this current administration could be problematic. For starters, if the green card holder has any criminal record, they may be questioned at length by customs and even detained by ICE authorities. Since January 2017 when Trump took office, I have received numerous calls about this very situation happening, which is very disturbing and frightening.

Another situation that is becoming more common is where the green card holder pled guilty years ago and is now being put in removal proceedings where the United States does not provide attorneys to assist in the process. For example, for those who are Hmong from Laos and Thailand, these countries will not accept the Hmong deportee back into their country; the fear of actually having to get on a plane and leave the United States is alleviated. However, through the removal proceedings, the government will take away the person's green card and essentially the person will be left here in the U.S. with no papers. The person will never be able to go outside of the United States for vacation, because if they were to step outside of the country, they will never be able to return. This way, the United States puts pressure on the person to leave voluntarily.

HT: Is there protection for individuals who could be deported due to criminal convictions?

PL: There may be protections and ways to help people who are facing deportation proceedings or who have criminal proceedings. However, what is available to people will vary from state to state and you will have to consult with an attorney to find out what can be done in your specific situation.

HT: Is there any relief for individuals who are here illegally?

PL: Again, each person's situation will be different and so the advice will be different for everyone. There is relief available under immigration law, but not everyone will qualify and not all of the relief will be appropriate.

HT: If ICE shows up at your front door, what due process protections do you have, if any?

PL: You do not have to allow any ICE or law enforcement officer into your home unless they have a signed order or search warrant. You can ask to see one. If they have one you must cooperate, but you do not have to talk to them and you should not talk to them.

HT: Do you think this order will prompt more immigrants to get their citizenship?

PL: Anyone who is not a U.S. Citizen needs to be extremely careful under this current administration, and if you are eligible for citizenship, you should apply as soon as possible.

I do not believe that our judicial system and our country is perfect by any means. However, I do believe that we still have one of the best, if not the best, judicial system and country in the world.

My heart goes out to those individuals who are here illegally and who desperately want to obtain their legal documents, but have no way of doing so and live in fear. However, for those who are green card holders who continue to play with their future and their children's future by taking a gamble that they will walk a straight line, never get in any trouble and never have to deal with immigration court, frustrate me especially if they have lived here for long periods of time. I hope they take the time to file their application or consult an attorney who can do it for them soon.

For more information on your rights, visit the ACLU website at: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/what-do-if-immigration-agents-ice-are-your-door

For immigration law, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at: www.uscis.gov.

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