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Changes in the law could subject cubans to deportation

January 21, 2015

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President Obama's current efforts to restore relations between the United States and Cuba will certainly affect trade and tourism, but could also have severe consequences for Cuban people who reside in the United States, but to date have not obtained U.S. citizenship. Many Cubans who migrated to the United States years ago may have to come to the realization that Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") may seek to have them deported if the relationship between the United States and Cuba normalizes. Unlike the majority of foreign citizens convicted of criminal offenses, Cubans cannot be deported back to their home country under the current state of law.

If President Obama is able to re-establish a diplomatic relationship with Cuba, the current administration will undoubtedly seek to have Cuba accept Cuban citizens that have been convicted of criminal offenses and ordered to be deported. When Cuban and American officials meet to discuss the normalization of relations, immigration matters will be at the forefront of the discussions. Make no mistake; any agreement will require that Cuba take back its nationals that have been ordered deported by ICE. According to ICE, there are 34,500 Cubans who face orders of deportation, the majority of which have been convicted of criminal offenses.

South Florida is the home to thousands of Cubans who have been ordered deported by the United States. As a result of the planned meeting between officials from Cuba and the United States, immigration lawyers' phones have not stopped ringing. Many of the Cubans who were issued deportation orders have done nothing to improve their status because they assumed they would never be deported to their home country due to the strained relations between Cuba and the U.S. As long as the deportation policy remains unchanged, Cubans with criminal convictions cannot be deported and cannot be detained indefinitely under the current state of the law. Two Supreme Court cases prohibit the indefinite detention of Cubans, but once they are released from ICE custody they are required to report regularly to ICE.

Cubans who face deportation have prior convictions for a variety of offenses. Sexual battery, drug trafficking and possession, violent crimes and fraud are all offenses that can subject a non-U.S. citizen to deportation. While the initial reaction to facing deportation is to contact an immigration lawyers, these types of attorneys may not be the best suited to prevent them from returning to their home country. Experienced Miami criminal lawyers, well-versed in motions to vacate previous criminal conviction may be the solution to the problem. As absurd as it may seem, criminal convictions from the 1970's or 1980's can result in deportation.

Based on recent court rulings, the likelihood of successfully winning a motion to vacate is limited. However, the law firm of DMT is exceptional in winning motions to vacate based on the equities. Generally, an agreed order to vacate can be agreed upon by a division chief in Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. Recently the office has required approval by the higher echelons. With that being said, our criminal attorneys have been successful in preventing hundreds of deportations by providing b mitigation in support of our clients. Items necessary to be successful are tax returns, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and supporting letters from friends, family, employers and high standing members of the community. In conclusion, all Cubans facing criminal charges must be more wary in accepting pleas that will now subject them to deportation. Hire a qualified attorney to defend your case, because simple cases with limited consequences may eventually result in the deportation of Cubans residing in Miami and the United States.

Cubans Convicted in the U.S. Face New Fears of Deportation, The New York Times, January 18, 2015.
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