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  Immigration - Legal News


A Guatemalan man who lived in a Massachusetts church for more than three years to avoid deportation said Tuesday he’s hopeful a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision boosts his efforts to remain in the country.

Lucio Perez’s lawyer, Glenn Formica, also said in a virtual news conference with his client that the April decision in Niz-Chavez vs. Garland also potentially affects the cases of millions more immigrants living in the country illegally.

The high court ruled in the Niz-Chavez case that federal policy has long deprived immigrants facing deportation of proper notification.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement typically issues a notice of a person’s deportation proceedings and then provides the hearing date and other key details in subsequent communications. The court ruled all relevant information should be included in a single notice.

U.S. Rep. James McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat who joined Perez for the news conference, said the ruling is an opportunity to renew legislative efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.

Perez left the First Congregational Church in Amherst in March after receiving a temporary stay of his deportation. He was among more than 70 immigrants nationwide who took sanctuary in churches during former President Donald Trump’s administration.


A woman who served a 10-year sentence in U.S. prison for lying about her role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide to obtain American citizenship, and then lost her bid for a new trial, has been deported to the East African nation and is likely to face prosecution there.

Beatrice Munyenyezi, who a U.S. judge said “was actively involved” in the killing of Tutsis in Rwanda, was convicted and sentenced in 2013 in New Hampshire. She served a 10-year sentence in Alabama and had faced deportation.

She lost her latest court battle in March, when the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal district judge’s rejection of her petition challenging how the jury was instructed during her trial in federal court in New Hampshire.

Her lawyer, Richard Guerriero, confirmed in an email Saturday that Munyenyezi had been deported to Rwanda. She arrived Friday and was handed over to Rwandan authorities, according to state-run media there.

“Her deportation means a lot in terms of justice delivery to genocide victims,” said Thierry Murangira, spokesperson for the Rwanda Investigation Bureau, according to The New Times.

Munyenyezi is accused of seven crimes connected to the genocide, including murder and complicity in rape, according to Rwandan investigators. She will be detained as investigations continue and her case sent to prosecutors, the newspaper reported.

In the United States, Munyenyezi was convicted of lying about her role as a commander of one of the notorious roadblocks where Tutsis were singled out for slaughter. She denied affiliation with any political party, despite the leadership role of her husband, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, in the extremist Hutu militia party.

She requested a new trial based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision that came in 2017, well after her sentencing, and limited the government’s ability to strip citizenship from immigrants who lied during the naturalization process.



The Supreme Court on Thursday made it harder for longtime immigrants who have been convicted of a crime to avoid deportation.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion for a 5-3 conservative majority that ruled against a Mexican citizen who entered the U.S. illegally and has lived in the country for 25 years.

The man, Clemente Avelino Pereida, had been charged in Nebraska with using a fraudulent Social Security card to get a job and convicted under a state law against criminal impersonation.

Not all criminal convictions inevitably lead to deportation, but Gorsuch wrote for the court that Pereida failed to prove he was not convicted of a serious crime.

Under immigration law, “certain nonpermanent aliens seeking to cancel a lawful removal order must prove that they have not been convicted of a disqualifying crime,” Gorsuch wrote.

In a dissent for the three liberal justices, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the court instead should have ruled for Pereida because he was convicted under a law that includes serious offenses, falling into the category of crimes of moral turpitude, and less serious ones.

“The relevant documents in this case do not show that the previous conviction at issue necessarily was for a crime involving moral turpitude,” Breyer wrote.

Immigrants with criminal convictions who are facing deportation can ask the attorney general to allow them to remain in the country, if the conviction wasn’t for a serious crime and they have lived here at least 10 years, among other criteria.


Reyna Montoya’s hands get sweaty and her throat feels like it’s closing just talking about the anxiety of every Monday this spring.

The immigrant rights activist who's shielded from deportation and allowed to legally work in the U.S. under an Obama-era program sets a 6 a.m. alarm so she’s alert when the latest Supreme Court decision may be posted online about an hour later.

Montoya, like 650,000 others enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, is waiting for the justices to release their decision on President Donald Trump’s attempt to end the protections. The high court heard arguments last fall and typically releases rulings on Mondays in the spring. But it's unclear exactly when an answer will come because the court sometimes issues decisions on other days as work wraps up for the summer.

“My gut hurts," said Montoya, 29, who is originally from Mexico but has grown up in the Phoenix area. “It’s this constant level of anxiety.”

Montoya’s advocacy group, Aliento, provides arts and healing workshops for other DACA recipients who struggle with not knowing their fate. She openly talks about going to therapy to quell her anxiety. The toll of the unknown — of who will take care of her financial assets, her mortgage — weighs heavy.

“When you actually pause and think about all the things you need to think about, it’s very daunting,” said Montoya, who sometimes feels guilty because others also have children to worry about.

Under intense pressure from young activists, then-President Barack Obama announced DACA in 2012. Commonly known as “Dreamers" after the failed legislation that would have provided a path to citizenship, these immigrants have been in the U.S. since they were children. Recipients went through extensive background screening to get two-year work permits and protection from deportation.


Immigration attorneys have sported swim goggles and masks borrowed from friends to meet with clients in detention centers. Masked judges are stocking their cramped courtrooms with hand sanitizer for hearings they want to do by phone.

While much of daily life has ground to a halt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the Trump administration is resisting calls from immigration judges and attorneys to stop in-person hearings and shutter all immigration courts. They say the most pressing hearings can be done by phone so immigrants aren’t stuck in detention indefinitely.

Rules change daily as the virus spreads and federal officials struggle to figure out how and whether they can keep the massive system running. Officials say they have not ruled out a total shutdown but are closing specific courts and delaying hearings.

The U.S. Justice Department on Monday postponed hearings for asylum-seekers waiting in Mexico, but only after judges in San Diego canceled hearings in defiance of orders to keep them running amid the pandemic. The government has delayed hearings for immigrants who aren’t in detention but is moving forward for those who are.

Suspected coronavirus infections have forced immigration courts in New York, New Jersey and Colorado to temporarily shut down in the past week. As a precaution, the government announced the closure of several more Wednesday. Others that previously closed had reopened Thursday, including in Seattle. A handful of courts are only accepting documents.


A divided Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Trump administration to put in place new rules that could jeopardize permanent resident status for immigrants who use food stamps, Medicaid and housing vouchers.

Under the new policy, immigration officials can deny green cards to legal immigrants over their use of public benefits.

The justices’ order came by a 5-4 vote and reversed a ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York that had kept in place a nationwide hold on the policy following lawsuits against it.

The court’s four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, voted to prevent the policy from taking effect.

Federal appeals courts in San Francisco and Richmond, Virginia, had previously overturned trial court rulings against the rules. An injunction in Illinois remains in effect but applies only to that state.

The lawsuits will continue, but immigrants applying for permanent residency must now show they wouldn’t be public charges, or burdens to the country.

The new policy significantly expands what factors would be considered to make that determination, and if it is decided that immigrants could potentially become public charges later, that legal residency could be denied. Under the old rules, people who used non-cash benefits, including food stamps and Medicaid, were not considered public charges.


Asylum seekers must pass an initial screening called a “credible fear” interview, a hurdle that a vast majority clear. Under the new policy, they would fail the test unless they sought asylum in at least one country they traveled through and were denied. They would be placed in fast-track deportation proceedings and flown to their home countries at U.S. expense.

The American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who is representing immigrant advocacy groups in the case, Lee Gelernt, said: “This is just a temporary step, and we’re hopeful we’ll prevail at the end of the day. The lives of thousands of families are at stake.”

Morgan said Trump and his administration are “doing everything that they can” to address what he described as the crisis on the U.S. border with Mexico.

Migrants with valid claims “should be seeking help and asylum from the first country they come in contact with,” Morgan said Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends.” ″They shouldn’t be paying the cartels thousands of dollars and risking their lives to take a 1,000-mile journey across several countries to get help. We want them to get help and seek asylum in the first country they get to.”

Justice Department spokesperson Alexei Woltornist said the agency was “pleased that the Supreme Court intervened in this case,” adding, “This action will assist the Administration in its objectives to bring order to the crisis at the southern border, close loopholes in our immigration system, and discourage frivolous claims.”


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