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Eigth Circuit Court Rules Against Figueroa-Alvarez in Immigration Case

court-510750_640In an immigration dispute between the United States and Leopoldo Figueroa-Alvarez, the migrant from Mexico has pleaded guilty to re-entering the country illegally after being deported. Under US Code: Title 8 (Aliens and Nationality), immigrants who are removed from the US and then re-enter without authorization are subject to fines or up to 2 years imprisonment.

Figueroa-Alvarez also admitted to a pre-removal “aggravated burglary” conviction, and the judges decided his sentencing guidelines warranted 46-57 months in prison because it was determined that he committed a felony – which Title 8 defines as “any Federal, state, or local offense punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year”.

They reached this decision by referencing several previous cases of felony conviction prior to removal, notably United States vs Vasquez-Gutierrez, where the defendant was charged with an aggravated felony prior to removal (similarly to Figueroa-Alvarez it was bumped up from “aggravated misdemeanour” because the judges thought the crime – assault with the intent to commit sexual abuse causing no bodily injury, warranted the higher punishment).

In 2013 it was estimated that 31.3% of all federal criminal cases in the justice system were immigration related, and of that 31.3%, 83.3% were illegal re-entry cases. Unfortunately, after conviction for such crimes, it is very hard for immigrants to remain in the United States, which can create a lot of hardship for their families who may still be in the country. Usually at the end of incarceration, the immigrants are forced to return to their home countries with no help from the US to reintegrate.

However, while this is a bleak prospect, there has been discontent from immigration activists concerning the lack of help with reintegration for ex-offenders. There is a strong belief that instituting programs like the US have to equip ex-offenders with psychological preparation and skills for re-integration should be extended to those forced into deportation, because their removal from the country affects their potentially US-born families. Successful re-integration means lowering the potential for re-offending, which is much higher among those who have not gone through a preparation program, and if the migrants who have returned home can re-integrate there then it’s possible for them to send money and support to their families who may still be in the US. Deporting migrants home and expecting them to fend for themselves is not a feasible or sustainable solution.

If you’re looking for representation in a re-entry dispute, or if you need any help regarding the immigration laws of the United States, you shouldn’t hesitate to get in touch with Daniela Lyttle either through the Lyttle Law Firm website or by calling 512-215-5225.