Federal Immigration Offenses & Litigation

With our proximity to the border, we handle a lot of federal immigration criminal matters in US District Court, both for employers and employees, business entities and individuals. We see three basic categories of cases: those involving the hiring or continued employment of undocumented workers; those involving the “smuggling” of illegal immigrants; and those involving an individual illegally reentering the United States after being deported.

Employment Related Cases

As every business owner or manager knows, any new employee must fill out an I-9 and provide a social security number. Unfortunately we’ve had cases where employers are investigated, raided, or charged with illegally employing persons that the employer should have known falsified I-9 forms, even though the employee provided a facially valid social security number and signed the form. We’ve also had cases where employers contact us, thankfully, before an investigation begins, to express concerns about a star employee, they want to help, but who has admitted or intimated to the employer immigration problems.

Federal Alien Smuggling Conspiracies

8 USC §§ 1324 et. seq. makes it a federal offense to “bring into the United States,”an illegal alien; “transport” an alien once in the United States; “harbor” or conceal an alien in the United States, or of course ,“employee” an alien unlawfully present in the United States. The charges can range from misdemeanors to significant felonies with guideline presumptive prison time.

Our cases have ranged from a high profile activist caught trying to cross the border with an illegal immigrant in her trunk, to a bus station owner accused of knowingly allowing illegals to hide in the back of the bus station as they waited for the bus to transport them, to a 740 count indictment involving nearly 80 defendants.

Illegal Reentry After Deportation

8 USC § 1326 makes it a separate federal offense for an illegal immigrant to re-enter the United States after being deported. These cases are relatively easy for the government to prove. In a few cases we have been able to successfully collaterally attack the prior deportation, or otherwise do some real good.

But of particular note is the application of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. While § 1326 violations are base level 8 offenses, there are significant “enhancements” some as great as 16 levels, if the person was previously deported after being convicted of certain offenses, particularly those considered “aggravated felonies.”

In those cases, even heart-breaking ones where the defendant has lived in the United States for 20 years or more, or may have a United States Citizen Spouse or US citizen children, we find ourselves counseling against investing financial resources for private criminal defense attorneys.

Immigration Court

The Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) is the official title of the Department of Justice Administrative Immigration Courts which handle deportation proceedings (now designated “removal” or “inadmissibility” proceedings). These deportation adjudications are separate and distinct from, but are often related to, the federal immigration criminal matters.

Four separate immigration courts in Arizona, two inside the prisons and two in the major cities: Florence and Eloy (Correction Corporations of America) immigration courts are inside detention centers; Tucson and Phoenix have dedicated immigration courts.The in-custody detention facilities house thousands of detainees, and the courts there and elsewhere are extraordinarily busy.

Michael has appeared many times in immigration courts in Florence & Eloy, Phoenix & Tucson, and also on occasion in Las Vegas and San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Although due to his caseload Michael now refers out purely administrative immigration matters, his knowledge of immigration law and the complex interplay between immigration and criminal law is of value. He is often consulted by other attorneys about immigration matters as they relate to criminally accused defendants.

Federal Immigration Litigation

The United States District Courts & the United States Courts of Appeals provide avenues of relief in the forms of statutory civil actions and petitions for review to those improperly ordered deported, improperly denied citizenship or otherwise unfairly treated by the immigration system. Michael has handled numerous Federal immigration litigation matters, both at the United States Districts Courts (Tucson and Phoenix) and at the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Fransisco.