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To the Trump administration, the other thing they had in common was more germane: a legal but, until now, unenforced obligation to leave the country that had stuck to them for years, even as they pieced together lives and families in the United States.
In the later years of the Obama administration, the government mostly left people without criminal records alone, focusing instead on immigrants who had only recently arrived or had been convicted of serious crimes.
Her husband was apologizing, saying he was sorry for putting her through all of this. As the Trump administration arrests thousands of immigrants with no criminal history and reshapes the prospects of even legal immigrants — an overdue corrective, officials say, to the lenient policies of the past — many who have lived without papers for years are urgently seeking legal status by way of a parent, adult child or spouse who is already a citizen or permanent resident.
In a growing number of cases, however, immigrants with old deportation orders that were never enforced are getting the go-ahead after an interview by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that handles residency and citizenship, only to be arrested by ICE.“It’s like playing dice in Las Vegas or something,” said William Joyce, a former immigration judge who now practices immigration law in Boston.
Until 2013, undocumented applicants had to leave the country and wait out the application process from abroad, in some cases for as long as a decade, before returning with green cards.
Then the Obama administration created a waiver to abbreviate the process.
Despite a national campaign to get him released, the man, Melecio Andazola Morales, was deported in December. 8, immigration agents in San Francisco went a step further, arresting a Sudanese man at his interview for asylum, where he was supposed to be given a chance to explain why he feared returning to his home country. Joyce, who said at least five clients of his firm had been arrested in the middle of applying for a marriage-based green card over the last year, including two who were later deported.
He had overstayed his visa, according to his lawyer, but had no criminal history or deportation order. An ICE spokesman, John Mohan, said that ICE has always worked with other government agencies to gather information for enforcement purposes.“ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” he said.
Leandro Arriaga, 43, had been warned by his lawyer that he might be detained at his marriage interview because he had been ordered deported years ago. Arriaga had arrived illegally from the Dominican Republic in 2001, settling in the Boston area.They had a son three years later, but he waited until 2016 to marry Ms.