What should be a seemingly routine marriage interview is turning into a nightmare for some families that are seeking a green card through the I-130 petition. This petition allows a U.S. citizen to apply for legal permanent residency for an immediate relative. If the family member is a spouse, the couple must sit for a marriage interview to prove to the immigration authorities that their marriage is not a sham or fraud. The interview conducted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) used to be a process to show marriage legitimacy is sadly turning into entrapment and family separation. Today, our Miami immigration attorneys discuss the trend of immigrants being detained at marriage interviews and what you can do if it happens to someone you know.
Is it legal to arrest immigrants at marriage interviews?
There is an alarming increase in the number of immigrants that are being detained at their marriage interview. It appears that USCIS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are working together to plan the detainments. In some cases, the immigrants have no criminal records. They are simply following the legal path to obtain a green card or citizenship.
Whether an immigrant can be arrested at the marriage interview depends on their legal status at the time of the interview. If the immigrant has some other legal status such as a valid unexpired visa, temporary protected status, or asylum, more than likely will not be arrested at the interview. However, the federal government’s position is that immigrants with pending green card applications that have entered the United States illegally or overstayed visas can be arrested at any time as they technically have no legal immigration status.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argues this is a violation of their rights to due process and the Immigration Nationality Act. “The government created this path for them to seek a green card,” Matthew Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, told the Associated Press. “The government can’t create that path and then arrest folks for following that path.” But as our Miami deportation lawyers know, this is happening across the country.
The detentions also run counter to the waivers that are designed to avoid family separations and it violates the immigrants’ rights to due process because they are not allowed to complete the process of legalizing their status. These waivers, established around 2013, allow immigrants to stay in the United States to avoid prolonged family separations while they continue to legally work on their citizenship. Prior to the waivers, the government forced immigrants to return to their country for 10 years before they could try for legal status again. This created undue negative impacts on spouses and children who are U.S. citizens and could remain in the United States.
What can you do?
If you or your loved one is seeking lawful permanent residency in the United States, it is important to work with an experience Miami immigration attorney. A deportation lawyer can help Miami immigrants avoid deportation in some cases and provide the best strategies mounting a legal defense.
At Hubbs Law Firm, a professional and knowledgeable Miami lawyer with years of experience in deportation and immigration will help you and your family step by step through the green card process. Call us today at (305) 665-9040 for a free consultation to learn how legal strategies to possibly avoid family separation and deportation.