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Crimes Involving Dangerous Drugs Most Likely to Cause Deportation…How Can Deportation be Avoided?

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently reported that the top reason for “removing” or deporting immigrants is based upon their being detained for crimes involving “dangerous drugs”. these crimes involve the manufacturing, sale or distribution and even possession of illegal drugs. Dangerous drug crimes caused the deportation of almost 30 percent of all people deported in 2009. Next to dangerous drugs came traffic offenses which accounted for 16 percent of deportations and then came other violations like illegally entering the country of smuggling of other immigrants into the country which accounted for over 15 percent of deportations.

Statistics maintained by ICE and other groups are somewhat confusing. The statistics speak only to people detained for these violations and do not indicate the numbers for individuals actually convicted of crimes.

For my clients, the question is fairly straight forward: How can I avoid being deported or removed from the country? My answer is not so straight forward. First, avoiding contact with law enforcement is very helpful in this regard. If an immigrant is not arrested, the odds of being deported are reduced dramatically. Here is where the problem comes about for my clients. Some years ago, ICE or Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents started staffing county jail facilities. ICE agents currently staff the Los Angeles County as well as many other county jail facilities. When an inmate is booked in a county jail system they are classified through routine sheriff’s procedures. They are asked their country of origin and inquiry is made as to their country of citizenship. If they appear not to have legal status here, a detainer or hold is placed upon them by ICE. This means that they cannot leave the jail system prior to being further scrutinized by ICE officials and possibly being subject to removal procedures.

How then does one avoid being “caught ” by ICE? First, avoid getting arrested. Next, always try to avoid any county jail facility at all costs. Most of my clients in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties are arrested by local (city, state) police officers and booked at various city jail facilities in those respective counties. If bail can be posted immediately, there is a strong likelihood that the inmate can be released on bail prior to an ICE hold being placed on them.

Then, even if serious charges are filed against the client, there is often a chance of avoiding county jail in the future. In Los Angeles County there are many options whereby a client can avoid jail time. Work programs can be bargained for or even serving days or months in a residential rehabilitation facility or a private work furlough facility. If a jail sentence cannot be avoided, there is often an option of serving jail time in a city jail facility. If these options do not sound like fun, then consider the alternative: deportation, denial of ra-admission and potential Federal prison upon capture for illegal re-entry.

ICE indicates that 31 percent of all deportations last year were from reinstatements of removal orders based upon people illegally re-entering after they were already deported.

You can view the official statistics of the 2009 Immigration Enforcement report.

As always, if you have questions about this or any criminal law issue please call me or email me at: