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Immigration law enforcement may threaten drivers without papers

In New York today, moving cars have become easy targets for immigration officials. With the current presidential administration, efforts are being made to aggressively enforce immigration law. As a result, broken headlights or failure to wear seatbelts -- minor traffic violations -- may have life-changing consequences for immigrants without the proper paperwork.

A routine traffic stop has had the potential to lead to deportation for a while now. However, during the final few years of the previous administration, officials started to prioritize serious crimes, which meant that traffic stops that revealed unlawful status were not treated as seriously. This is no longer the case.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, reported that during the past few months, a rising number of traffic stop reports in New York and other states have indicated that motorists have been taken into the custody of ICE. Even car passengers are experiencing detention and facing deportation. In many parts of the United States, immigrants who do not have the necessary paperwork often drive even without licenses so that they can take their children to school, get to work or shop and complete other activities.

Immigrants who lack the proper paperwork may understandably be frightened about what could happen to them in light of the current push to strictly enforce immigration law. However, if they are interested in pursuing a legal path to citizenship, an attorney in New York can help them through the process. The attorney will ensure that their rights and best interests are protected at each stage.

Source: The New York Times, "Driving While Undocumented, and Facing the Risks", Liz Robbins, July 18, 2017

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