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hartford defense lawyerImmigrants to the United States may run afoul of a variety of laws that could affect their immigration status. There are multiple issues that could potentially lead to deportation, including being convicted of certain types of crimes. In some cases, law enforcement officials may ask a person to cooperate with an investigation, telling them that by doing so, they can receive an S visa that will allow them to remain in the United States. However, criminal justice and immigration advocates have found that these types of visas are rarely granted, and in many cases, immigrants will still face deportation even if they cooperate with law enforcement and meet all of their legal requirements.

Problems With S Visas

S visas, which are commonly known as “snitch visas,” are available for those who have provided assistance to a law enforcement agency as a witness or informant in a criminal investigation. Up to 200 S visas can be issued each year for people who assist with criminal cases, and an additional 50 visas can be issued in cases related to terrorism investigations. Initially, a person will be allowed to stay in the U.S. with a nonimmigrant status, and if they meet all requirements during the investigation where they are serving as an informant or witness, they will be allowed to apply for a Green Card and become a Lawful Permanent Resident.

Unfortunately, the S visa system has not functioned in practice the way that it is meant to, and very few of these visas are actually issued. In 2018, only 16 S visas were approved in criminal cases, and since 1995, only six visas have ever been approved in cases related to terrorism. In many cases, S visas take between 5 to 10 years to be processed, and they can be denied at any point, resulting in a person losing their immigration status and being deported, even if they have complied with all government requests and fulfilled all of their obligations during an investigation.

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Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney for immigration casesImmigration still remains a hotly debated topic in American politics. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have tried multiple ways to get state and local law enforcement agencies to help them detain undocumented immigrants. While some states and cities have complied with these requests, others have not. Connecticut has long been considered a “sanctuary state” due to its unwillingness to help ICE detain immigrants. The Trust Act that was passed in 2013 details Connecticut’s policy of a hands-off approach when it comes to ICE. However, even with these policies in place, the state has provided information about criminal cases involving immigrants to federal agencies for years.

What Is the Trust Act?

The most common way ICE asks for help with detaining immigrants is by issuing a civil detainer to law enforcement agencies. Historically, Connecticut has not willingly provided information to ICE about immigrants. The Trust Act actually prevented local law enforcement agencies in Connecticut from detaining immigrants on the basis of a civil detainer, unless the immigrant was on a federal terrorist watch list, had been convicted of a Class A or B felony, or had a judicial order issued against them.

Connecticut May Actually Be Helping ICE

Even though Connecticut has laws preventing law enforcement agencies from detaining an immigrant solely based on their status, the state has been helping ICE in other ways. When former Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy was in office four years ago, his administration entered into an agreement with ICE, granting it access to the information that is contained in Connecticut’s law enforcement database. Even more recently, the state entered into an agreement to provide information directly to ICE in 2018. The agreement allows ICE to access the Connecticut On-Line Law Enforcement Communications Teleprocessing system, also known as COLLECT.

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