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United States District Court for the District of Maryland
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Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland

The effects of an unsuccessful asylum application can be catastrophic. It can mean being uprooted from your home and your family, being sent to a country you’ve never known as home, and possibly a place where you may find yourself to be a target for hate and violence. For these reasons and more, you must put forward the strongest asylum application possible. Statistics show that asylum applicants with attorney representation are six more likely to succeed than those without, so don’t delay retaining an experienced Maryland asylum lawyer to assist you.

Membership in any collection of people that U.S. immigration law recognizes as a “particular social group” can be essential to a successful asylum application. You can qualify for asylum if you are a member of one or more of these groups and you present proof that, if you are returned to your home country, you either (a) have a reasonable fear of harm or (b) a history of past harm as a result of your membership in the group.

To succeed on this basis, you need the right social group undergirding your application. Simply asserting, for example, “Honduran females” as your group will almost certainly be deemed too broad. An overly broad group will doom your application and leave you subject to deportation, as was the case with one California man recently.

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When people hear the phrase “deferred action” concerning immigration law, they may initially focus on the DREAMers. Other processes beyond just Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA, potentially can help immigrants protect themselves from deportation, however. To find out if you can shield yourself from deportation through a deferred action process (or other means,) consult an experienced Maryland immigration lawyer.

One form of deferred action (outside of DACA) was in the news earlier this year, and it safeguards immigrant workers caught in an all-too-common situation. You may have even seen fictionalized versions of this circumstance play out on television. The undocumented worker is the victim of (or otherwise witnesses) his/her employer engaging in illegal practices. The employer then blackmails the worker into silence by threatening to contact “Immigración” (a/k/a federal immigration authorities) and get the worker deported.

The Department of Homeland Security has long had a process to allow these workers to pursue deferred action and protect themselves from removal. Earlier this year, DHS announced that it had “streamlined” the process, allowing workers to receive “expedited” processing of their deferral requests.

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“A violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.” People often associate this phrase with an impermissible search without a warrant, but that’s not the only scenario. An arrest itself can be a constitutional violation if the foundation underlying the arrest warrant isn’t adequate to establish probable cause. Whether you’re under suspicion or under arrest, don’t delay in retaining an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer to provide you with the skillful representation you need.

A homicide case from Prince George’s County is a real-life example of how an arrest warrant can be fatally flawed. The case flowed from an unsolved 2005 murder in which 2-3 armed intruders entered an apartment in Landover, tied up one man, and fatally shot a second man inside the unit.

In late December 2017, a detective filed an application for a statement of charges in connection with that murder.

In a Maryland criminal trial, a jury should only convict the accused if the prosecution has presented evidence proving the accused’s commission of that specific crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Often, the people on trial are folks without spotless records; they may have had multiple prior encounters with the criminal judicial system. Those facts alone don’t make them guilty, though those facts might tempt a jury to find that defendant guilty simply because the jurors decide they dislike the accused. If you’re someone with a criminal past who is on trial again, it is crucial to ensure that you get inadmissible evidence of your past excluded from your case. This is just one of many areas where it pays to have representation from an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer.

These limitations on what the prosecution can do are necessary to avoid confusing jurors, prejudicing them against the accused, and predisposing them to believe the accused is guilty. In other words, the evidence might lead the jury to convict just because they think the accused is a bad person, not because the state offered sufficient proof of the crime charged.

As an example, there’s the Maryland Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the case of F.B., a Baltimore man on trial for felony child abuse.

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On July 31, a federal court in California issued a ruling in an immigration class action lawsuit. That ruling has created nationwide impacts, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services authoring an update to its USCIS Policy Manual. That update, which will align with the court’s July 31 ruling, deals with special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status, the 180-day timeframe for adjudicating an SIJ petition, and the provisions within the Department of Homeland Security’s regulations regarding tolling of that 180-day deadline. This new development is potentially significant in many ways, one of which is to remind anyone with questions about SIJ status to seek out answers from a knowledgeable and fully up-to-date Maryland immigration lawyer.

SIJ status is available to certain immigrants who have been the subject of state juvenile court proceedings regarding abuse, neglect, or abandonment. The way to initiate a request for SIJ status is to file a Form 360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

An immigrant can obtain SIJ status if he/she (1) “has been declared dependent on a juvenile court or legally committed to the custody of an individual or entity” and (2) cannot viably reunify with one or both parents “due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.” Additionally, (3) an administrative or judicial proceeding must have deemed “that it would not be in the juvenile immigrant’s best interest to be returned to the juvenile immigrant’s or parent’s previous country of nationality or country of last habitual residence,” and (4) the DHS “consents to the grant of special immigrant juvenile status.”

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One of the most important fundamental rights each person in Maryland has is the right to legal representation in criminal matters. This right acknowledges just how important a robust defense is to a fair criminal process and how life-altering a criminal conviction can be. If you are facing a criminal charge (or under suspicion of a crime,) it is important to retain not just any attorney but rather the right Maryland criminal defense lawyer with the knowledge and experience necessary to provide you with the effective advocacy you need.

Because the right to counsel is so fundamental, a trial court order impinging it can be illegal and the basis for a successful appeal. Take, for example, the criminal trial arising from a Christmas night altercation at a Columbia convenience store.

The dispute turned into a stabbing that left one man injured, one man dead, and a Baltimore man on trial for second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. The accused asserted that he acted in self-defense.

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Back in July, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling overturning a removal order in the case of a Salvadoran woman and her minor son. The ruling in favor of the asylum applicant represents just the latest in a series of appellate and Supreme Court rulings related to defective immigration notices, and points out how even very technical defects in the notices to appear the government issues may eventually help applicants avoid removal. Success in these matters often requires in-depth knowledge of the law and the procedural requirements, which is why you should definitely consult with an experienced Maryland deportation defense lawyer about your situation.

The applicant, A.A.L.-G., and her minor son entered to the United States from El Salvador without authorization. Immigration authorities detained them in Texas. At that time, the mother told a federal asylum officer that gang members in El Salvador had threated to rape her and kill her son as a result of her refusal to cooperate with the gang. The officer believed that the mother was credible and referred her case.

A few weeks later, in late May 2019, the government served a “notice to appear” before an immigration judge. In the space where the date and time of hearing should have appeared, the form said simply “TBD,” which would seem to mean “to be determined.”

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When you’re accused of a crime, achieving a successful result may involve many procedural steps. These could include things like pretrial motions (such as a motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence,) in-trial objections (such as opposing the admission of inadmissible hearsay evidence,) post-trial motions, and appeals. To ensure that your rights are protected to the fullest, you need to be sure you have representation from a Maryland criminal defense lawyer with the skills and experience to handle these procedural elements effectively.

A murder case from Montgomery County is a good example. The defendant, H.A.Z., stood accused of killing his married lover’s husband. The state also charged the woman with the murder.

The prosecution chose to try the two together. The Maryland rules allow for this kind of trial if the two defendants are “alleged to have participated in the same act or transaction or in the same series of acts or transactions constituting an offense or offenses.” Sometimes, though, a joint trial would result in unfair prejudice to one or both defendants, in which case the defendants should be tried separately.

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Many foreign workers who work legally in the United States do so with a non-permanent visa such as an H-1B. Some foreign workers, however, work in this country on a permanent basis, holding what’s called a PERM visa. The federal government makes roughly 140,000 of these visas available each year. The application process is complicated and time-consuming, and successfully acquiring one of these visas requires skill and attention to detail. To give your PERM visa request the best chance of success, don’t delay in reaching out to a knowledgeable Maryland PERM immigration lawyer.

On June 1, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) made an important change to the ETA Form 9089 (PERM certification) application and case management process. Now, all PERM applications go through the Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG) portal. The department also clarified that all applications filed before June 1 will continue to proceed through the old portal, as the old portal will remain functional.

In connection with the transition of PERM applications to the FLAG, the OFLC also introduced a new ETA Form 9089. The new version is a “smart form,” which means that, if an applicant previously filed a prevailing wage determination through the FLAG portal, that applicant can link that determination to his/her PERM application.

The “prevailing wage determination” is a critical step along the path to obtaining a PERM certification. In this context, a “prevailing wage” is the average wage earned by “similarly employed workers” in your specific line of work. To complete this step, your employer has to fill out Form ETA-9141, called the “Application for Prevailing Wage Determination.”

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If you need to seek asylum in the United States, you may understand that you need to complete the legal process of applying for asylum and that a skilled Maryland immigration attorney can help you achieve a successful result on that application. What you may not know, however, is that this step involves more than hiring any attorney. To best protect yourself and give yourself the maximum chance of a successful outcome, you need to best you’re selecting not just an attorney but rather the right attorney.

Attorney misconduct is harmful to any client victimized by it. However, some clients bear an especially high risk. For asylum applicants, competent representation is especially crucial, as (much like some criminal defendants) the difference between success and failure may literally be a matter of life and death.

The harrowing story of one Cameroonian man who narrowly avoided deportation is an example of exactly this.

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