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Immigrants denied entry to the U.S. without a court hearing

Florida residents may be interested in the case of a 30-year-old woman who was born in Houston but unable to return to the United States from Mexico. Although she had a valid birth certificate, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents deemed it a fake and sent her back to Mexico. When caught trying to cross the border illegally, an agent asked her why a citizen would enter in such a manner.

After explaining her situation, the agent asked why she spoke Spanish. The agent then laughed at her when she said that she had spent most of her life in Mexico. Her stories and others similar to hers have critics complaining about a system of deportation that they claim is unfair if not illegal. Instead of trying cases through an immigration court, border patrol agents may be able to decide whether an individual stays or is asked to leave the country.

In a report issued by the ACLU, 83 percent of cases were decided by a uniformed border patrol or customs agent. Most of these cases were decided at the border without a formal review. Those who are fighting for immigrant rights believe that only an immigration judge should be allowed to make a decision about an individual's status.

Those who are seeking entry into the United States may wish to consult with an immigration and naturalization attorney. An attorney may be able to review a client's credentials to determine if he or she is eligible to be in the country or should be allowed to stay in the country pending a formal review of the case. Those who have family members or other ties to the country may be given the opportunity to obtain permanent residency or a formal path to citizenship if so desired.

Source: NPR, "Born In The U.S. But Turned Back At The Border, Time After Time", John Burnett, December 12, 2014

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