Living in New Jersey (or any state for that matter) as an immigrant is often a challenging experience. Although many say much progress has been made in recent years, and those who emigrate to the United States in search of better lives have much more opportunity to bring their dreams to fruition than those who trod similar paths several decades ago, countless others live in fear that even a most minor traffic infraction may lead to deportation.
Some say such fears are unfounded. Others have first-hand evidence of family members or other inside sources who say immigration officials targeted them when all they did was show up to court to contest traffic tickets or make an appearance when charges were slated to be dismissed.
Shouldn't a green card help alleviate such fears?
You would think possession of a green card would evoke a sense of security for any permanent resident facing minor legal problems. Sometimes, prosecutors never have the opportunity to try a case because a judge decides to dismiss it. However, the defendant may be required to be present in court when the judge announces the decision. If the defendant is a lawful permanent resident with no criminal record, there shouldn't be a problem, right?
Sadly, many immigrants are so afraid to go to court after hearing stories of ICE officials detaining immigrants who show up for hearings. They would rather risk missing a court appointment than take a chance on appearing when plain-clothed agents might be waiting in the wings to take them away.
Where to turn for help if you're called into court
Whether you are a documented or undocumented immigrant, being charged with a crime or called into court for some type of family law situation like child custody, visitation or child support issues may seem daunting and cause you great anxiety. If a relative or someone you know has been deported (or held in detainment for a length of time before being released) your fears may be intensified. It is always good to learn as much as you can about immigration law and know where to seek support should a problem arise.
A New Jersey attorney experienced in addressing immigration issues is typically a great asset to have on-hand if you are worried about going to court. In fact, in most situations, an attorney can act on your behalf as a personal advocate in all interactions with court officials and immigration and/or civil authorities.