Without question, one of the most heated issues in the 2016 election was immigration. As the winner of the 2016 election, Trump’s controversial views on immigration have become strikingly more important over the last 24 hours. At the outset of Mr. Trump’s campaign he made headlines by characterizing Mexicans immigrating to the United States as drug dealers, criminals, and “rapists”. Since making this statement, his immigration policy seems to have softened, but Mr. Trump has made it abundantly clear that he plans to “Deport all criminal aliens” within the first 100 days of his administration.
Who Exactly Does President-Elect Trump Plan to Deport?
In some circumstances, this could be a good idea—few can justify allowing undocumented immigrants who commit serious offenses like rape to stay in the country. The problem lies with what Mr. Trump means by “deporting all criminal aliens”—does he actually intend to deport all undocumented immigrants with any type of criminal record? Do minor offenses like jaywalking or petty theft count? What about the crime of just being in the country illegally? There is a lot of uncertainty with whom Mr. Trump considers to be a criminal that needs to be deported, which should be very alarming to the millions of undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States.
What Should Undocumented Immigrants Do to Avoid Deportation?
Regardless of the specifics of President-elect Trump’s immigration policy, it’s obvious that undocumented immigrants should immediately take steps to (1) obtain legal residency if possible; and (2) when possible, take steps to remove arrests and convictions from their criminal records.
For most undocumented immigrants, obtaining legal residency in the short period before Mr. Trump takes office will likely be very difficult. The legal steps to obtain legal residency in the United States can be a long, difficult process that is simply not an option to many undocumented immigrants. However, many undocumented immigrants may qualify to expunge, seal, or otherwise remove arrests and convictions from their criminal record.
Immediately Remove Arrests and Criminal Convictions from Your Record
Most of the states with the largest undocumented immigrant populations have favorable laws that allow millions, regardless of their immigration status, to expunge or seal their criminal records. For example, in California most criminal records can be expunged if you were not sentenced to state prison. Furthermore, the recent passing of Prop 64 allows the expungement of nearly all marijuana related criminal offenses. Texas allows the expungement of nearly all criminal records not resulting in a conviction, and the sealing of criminal records where deferred adjudication (a type of probation) was imposed.
Does Expunging a Criminal Record Guarantee That You Will Not Be Deported?
No, there are typically no guarantees with immigration, particularly with the uncertainty surrounding Trump’s immigration policy. Although the effect of expunging or sealing a criminal record is unclear under Trump’s unknown immigration policy, in most cases doing so will allow you to legally state that you have not been arrested and/or convicted of a crime under state law. This is very important because after expunging or sealing your criminal record, you would not be a “criminal” under state law. There are no guarantees that expunging or sealing your criminal record will prevent deportation under Trump’s immigration policies. However, considering the stakes involved, if you are an undocumented immigrant with a criminal record it would be foolish to ignore the risks of continuing to have a criminal record with Trump taking office on January 20, 2017.
How to Find Out if You Qualify for an Expungement
Each state’s expungement rules are different, and the process is typically difficult to navigate without an attorney experienced in these matters. Our law firm, Eastman Meyler, PC, is happy to help guide you through the process—we strongly encourage you to take our FREE, confidential Eligibility Test or give us a call toll free at (844) 947-3732 to discuss your eligibility and the process of expunging or sealing a criminal record. The process can be as fast as around a month, or take as long as an entire year—the sooner you contact us, the sooner we can get to work removing arrests and/or convictions from your criminal record. President-elect Trump takes office soon, so don’t wait until it’s too late!