Alameda County Makes Promising Efforts to Protect Immigrants from Deportation

by | Nov 2, 2012 | Firm News |

As many San Francisco Bay Area residents know, Alameda County, and particularly the city of Oakland, has one of the highest crime rates in California. With over 30% of the county’s population belonging to the immigrant community, it is no surprise that immigrants make up a large percentage of victims of violent crimes. While crime is still going strong in Alameda, the local authorities have certainly taken notice that supporting the immigrant community is one of the answers to this problem.

Immigrant Victims of Crime

For years, immigrant victims of crime have remained largely in the shadows, hesitating to report the often violent crimes against them out of fear that they would be discovered by law enforcement for being undocumented, and turned over to the immigration authorities for deportation. As a result, many violent felonies go unreported, allowing criminals to go free and prey on the immigrant community, and society at large, with impunity.

However, in recent years, Congress created the U visa, a temporary visa with a path to citizenship for victims of domestic violence and other violent felonies who report the crimes against them to the police, and are helpful to the authorities investigating the crime. The policy behind the visa is to encourage immigrant victims to report the crimes against them, leading to more arrests of violent offenders.

While the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is ultimately responsible for adjudicating U visa petitions, Congress gave law enforcement a vital role: the U visa requires a certification from either local, state, or federal law enforcement officials (including prosecutors) stating that the U visa applicant was a victim of the crime and was helpful to the investigation or prosecution.

Both the Oakland Police Department as well as the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office caught on to the benefits of the U visa fast, and have made an affirmative effort to support immigrant victims of crime in signing off on their U visa certifications. In 2007, the first year U visas were accepted, the Oakland Police Department processed three certification requests. In 2011, it processed 502. This year, it appears they have seen over 1000 so far. Lt. Johnny Davis, the Oakland officer who previously oversaw the department’s certification program, said that supporting U visa petitioners has built trust in the Oakland community, and that as a result he has seen an increase in people calling the police for help.

Low-level Offenders and the Risk of Deportation

Moreover, Alameda County has made positive strides to reduce the risk of deportation for lawful permanent residents who are facing only minor criminal convictions, such as petty theft or minor drug charges, but who could be facing permanent deportation if convicted. In a 2010 case called Padilla v. Kentucky, the U.S. Supreme Court held that defense attorneys must inform their immigrant clients whether a criminal conviction could result in deportation. In that case, Mr. Padilla pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge, unaware that the conviction would lead directly to his deportation after many decades of living lawfully in the United States.

In the spirit of Padilla, the Alameda County District Attorney has implemented a new strategy that is intended to stop minor crimes from triggering deportation for lawful residents, ensuring that the punishment, which could ultimately include the severe consequence of deportation, really does fit the crime. District Attorney Nancy O’Malley states that under new plea bargain guidelines, some lawful immigrants facing charges for minor crimes can avoid convictions that would likely lead to deportation. For example, a plea bargain might offer a reduced jail sentence, or might allow the defendant to plead to a lesser charge, which would limit punishment to a sentence in criminal court only, and eliminate the risk of deportation.

With this new policy, Alameda County joins a small number of counties in the U.S., including nearby Santa Clara County, where prosecutors are instructed to consider the threat of deportation in assessing which pleas to seek for these low-level crimes.

Finally, on October 30, 2012, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to reject Secure Communities (S-Comm), an Immigration and Customs Enforcement program that identifies immigrants in U.S. jails who might be subject to deportation, and reports them to DHS. Although the Council’s vote is mostly a symbolic gesture, as inmates are frequently transferred from Berkeley jails to county facilities where S-Comm is alive and well, it does show that more and more government actors are taking a positive stance on immigrants’ rights. At the very least, this could protect immigrants who spend only a night or two in jail for low-level offenses from being reported to DHS and eventually deported.

The steps that Oakland, Berkeley, and the Alameda County District Attorney have taken to protect immigrant victims of crime and ensure that minor criminal convictions do not lead to the disproportionate punishment of deportation are heartening. As immigrant advocates we look forward to their continued support and hope to see even more progress in the future.


Big News- Firm Merger and Consolidation to Oakland!

Bean + Lloyd, LLP and Park & Taylor has formed Bean, Lloyd, Mukherji, & Taylor, LLP

San Francisco Office has Moved to Join Oakland Office

We are thrilled to announce the merger of Bean + Lloyd, LLP and Park & Taylor, two highly respected Bay Area immigration law firms, which took place in April 2021. The new firm, Bean, Lloyd, Mukherji, & Taylor, LLP, combines decades of immigration experience in the subfields of family-based immigration, removal defense, asylum, humanitarian visas, and criminal immigration.

Additionally, the former Park & Taylor office in San Francisco has moved to join the Oakland office at 110 11th Street, Oakland, CA 94607. While the office is temporarily closed to the public due to COVID-19, our staff is still available by phone, email, and text message, and all consultations and client appointments will continue by phone or video. We look forward to physically reopening our expanded and improved Oakland office when it is safe to do so.

Partners Jesse Lloyd and Anita Mukherji, both certified specialists in immigration and nationality law by the California State Bar, lead the firm. Karyn Taylor has joined as Of Counsel, and Angela Bean remains as partner and Anna von Herrmann as Of Counsel. The Park & Taylor staff have brought their two decades of experience to the team.

Please contact us at (510) 433-1900 or with any inquiries.

¡Anuncio importante- Unión y Consolidación de Dos Bufetes! Bean + Lloyd, LLP y Park & Taylor han Formado Bean, Lloyd, Mukherji, & Taylor, LLP

La oficina de Park & Taylor se ha mudado para unirse a la oficina de Oakland

Estamos emocionados de anunciar la unión entre Bean + Lloyd, LLP y Park & Taylor, dos bufetes de inmigración muy respetados en el Área de la Bahía, lo cual ocurrió en abril del 2021. El bufete nuevo, Bean, Lloyd, Mukherji, & Taylor, LLP, combina décadas de experiencia en inmigración familiar, defensa de deportación, asilo, visas humanitarias, e inmigración criminal.

Además, la antigua oficina de Park & Taylor en San Francisco se ha mudado para unirse a la oficina de Oakland en 110 11th Street, Oakland, CA 94607. Nuestra oficina está temporalmente cerrada al público debido a COVID-19. Nuestro personal seguirá estando disponible por teléfono, correo electrónico y texto. Todas las consultas y citas de clientes, continuarán por teléfono o videollamada. Estamos emocionados para reabrir físicamente nuestra ampliada y mejorada oficina de Oakland cuando sea seguro hacerlo.

Los socios Jesse Lloyd y Anita Mukherji, dos especialistas certificados en ley de inmigración y nacionalidad por la Barra del Estado de California, dirigen el bufete. Karyn Taylor es abogada retirada pero se ha unido al bufete, Angela Bean permanece como socia y Anna von Herrmann sigue siendo parte del bufete. El personal de Park & Taylor ha compartido sus dos décadas de experiencia con el equipo.

Por favor contáctenos al (510) 433-1900 o con sus preguntas.

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