A Comprehensive Overview of Immigration Laws in Texas
THE BASICS OF TEXAS IMMIGRATION LAWS
The term immigration law refers to the federal government’s rules that determine who is allowed to enter the country as a student, refugee, temporary worker, or permanent resident, for what duration, and their rights and responsibilities, in addition to the naturalization process for those who want to become U.S. citizens.
As outlined in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the immigration policies also control how the proceedings for detention and removal are conducted in cases where foreign nationals enter without permission, overstay their visit duration, or lose their legal status.
Staying informed on Texas’ immigration rules and regulations can help immigrants avoid unnecessary altercations with the law and generally make them feel more confident as they go about their daily activities without having to interact with the Texas Military Department.
If you are facing trouble with federal immigration authorities, it is crucial to work with an immigration attorney in Austin on any legal immigration concerns, recent charges, or detainments against you.
At Michael G. Murray P.A., we provide comprehensive, results-driven legal advice and assistance to individuals and families in various immigration-related matters across the state of Texas, and we are here to help you, too.
WHAT ARE THE IMMIGRATION REGULATIONS IN TEXAS?
Below you will find information on Texas rules on immigration checks for border security by workplace employers, E-verify requirements, educational institutions, law enforcement privileges, immigration-based restrictions on public benefits, and various aspects of the immigration law.
Immigration Status and Educational Institution Requirements
U.S. law provides that anyone in the country, whether documented or unauthorized, has the same privilege to attend primary, secondary, and tertiary education. States must also provide unaccompanied children, regardless of their immigration status, with equal access to public education.
There is no federal immigration law that prohibits colleges in the U.S. from admitting undocumented students. And in Texas, residents lacking documentation are still allowed to pay in-state tuition at universities.
To be eligible, a student must:
- Have gotten a GED or a degree from a private or public high school in Texas
- Have resided in Texas for at least three years during high school
- Offer their colleges an affidavit stating that they will apply to become permanent residents at the earliest opportunity
If you are a college student in any of the universities of Texas and worried about your immigration status, it is best to consult with an experienced lawyer skilled in immigration laws. If your lawyer understands how American Immigration Council works, he will help you bring out the best results in cases such as crossing the border illegally and the nationality act of Texas.
The federal employment rules require all employers to verify that a potential employee is eligible to work in the U.S. Employment checks involve receiving proof of a person’s documentation as a legal foreign national or U.S. citizen and completing Form 1-9 within three days of hiring an employee.
Though the existing U.S. laws on anti-discrimination forbid discrimination based on citizenship status, it is illegal to employ undocumented immigrants.
Former Texas Governor, Rick Perry, ordered that the E-Verify internet-based system overseen by the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) be used to ensure all prospective new hires are eligible to work in the country.
It is also reported in Texas Tribune that Texas requires state contractors and state agencies to use the E-Verify system when hiring workers.
In Texas law, there are several kinds of visas available to foreign nationals who intend to come into the country to work for a limited duration or permanently.
Consult with an experienced employment-based immigration lawyer at Michael G. Murray P.A. for direction on the best visa to obtain for your unique situation and guidance through the application process.
PUBLIC BENEFITS RESTRICTIONS AND TEXAS FEDERAL IMMIGRATION LAWS
Low-income families in Texas with children who are 18 or younger get aid to pay for necessities such as food through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). However, only legal residents and naturalized U.S. citizens qualify to receive TANF benefits as federal law prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving such benefits.
Non-U.S. citizens are also ineligible for other national benefits, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). However, regardless of their status, immigrants are eligible for services considered vital for protecting life or safety.
It is worthy of note that with a green card, a foreign national becomes a permanent resident and is legally eligible to receive these public benefits and also qualifies for citizenship in three to five years.
An Austin immigration lawyer at Michael G. Murray P.A. can help you in the process of getting a green card and also guide you towards naturalization and citizenship.
ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IN TEXAS
Through the Department of Homeland Security, the government can remove an individual who lacks a legal reason for being in the country.
“Removal” is the technical name for deportation. Individuals can be removed for various reasons, such as the fact that they are foreign nationals convicted of committing a crime in the U.S., entered the country without authorization, or their valid non-immigrant visa with which they entered the country has expired.
Even something as simple as operating a vehicle without a driver’s license can result in removal. If removed, the government may prevent the individual from returning, even for a visit.
There are specific mechanisms the government may apply to remove an undocumented immigrant. It could be through expedited removal, reinstatement of removal, or more formal removal proceedings in front of immigration judges. An immigration lawyer may be able to challenge the government’s claim successfully.
At Michael G. Murray P.A. Law Firm, we are aggressive defenders of immigrant rights. Our attorneys have extensive knowledge of immigration law and are highly experienced with removal and deportation proceedings.
If you currently face the possibility of removal, our team will advocate on your behalf to preserve your right to live and work in the country.
SANCTUARY CITIES VERSUS THE NEW IMMIGRATION REGULATIONS IN TEXAS
Many states and cities in the U.S. have “sanctuary” jurisdiction. This allows them to discourage cooperation with the federal government on the enforcement of immigration law by following the principle of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in an attempt to reduce fears of deportation and family separation.
Many cities and counties in the Texas State followed this non-cooperation policy before being banned by the Texas Senate Bill 4, signed into law in May 2017 by Governor Greg Abbott. The ban followed the executive order of the Trump administration that threatened to cut federal funding to states and cities with sanctuary jurisdictions.
This immigration policy banned sanctuary cities in the state and authorized law enforcement officers to ask an arrested or detained individual about their immigration status. It also requires police officers to aid the government with federal immigration enforcement.
If arrested, an immigrant in Texas has the right to a lawyer. At Michael G. Murray P.A, we recommend that you don’t discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer. Contact us immediately if officials are questioning you.
LAW ENFORCEMENT AND FEDERAL IMMIGRATION POLICY IN TEXAS
Several states, cities, and local government entities in the country are a part of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ACCESS Program under Section 287 (g) of the constitution. This program serves as a partnership between ICE and the state and local governments, giving them the authority to function as immigration law enforcement agents.
Also known as the “Memorandum of Agreements (MOAs) or the “287(g) contracts,” this agreement means the police can help the government in identifying and removing foreign nationals who are subject to removal/deportation from the country.
What’s more, under a federal program known as “Secure Communities,” the ICE office requires that all arrestees by the police are fingerprinted. The results go through a national database that checks the person’s immigration status and criminal record.
Some cities have refused to comply with the Secure Communities provisions, but the Austin Police Department currently abides by its rules. If you are arrested, you should contact a lawyer immediately.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED A VIOLATION OF IMMIGRATION LAW?
An immigrant’s status in the country can be unlawful if they:
- Stayed beyond their visa
- Overstayed on a legal work visa
- Aided someone else in overstaying
- Falsely claimed citizenship
- Were deported and unlawfully re-entered
- Worked without authorization
- Misrepresented facts on a government form
An immigrant who is unlawfully present in the country can still have rights under the law. However, if you are arrested for driving while intoxicated, simple assault, or drug possession, you could be deported. If you are charged with crimes like these, you should contact an immigration lawyer immediately.
WHAT RIGHTS DO I HAVE AS AN IMMIGRANT?
Immigrants in Texas have constitutional rights. As residents of the state, they are protected by the U.S. Constitution at all times – regardless of their immigration status or place of birth.
These include the Fifth Amendment, which protects you against self-incrimination and unlawful detention, as well as freedoms under the First Amendment, such as the freedom to practice religion and free speech.
You also have protections from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment, as well as due process rights as a person accused of a crime.
Immigrants who are victims of crime can report it without fear of being taken into custody for removal proceedings by an immigration officer.
CONTACT A TOP-RATED IMMIGRATION LAW FIRM IN AUSTIN, TEXAS
The national immigration process and its constantly changing laws can be tedious and daunting. Whether you are bringing loved ones into the country or needing assistance with acquiring business-related green cards or employment-based visas, or a strong defense against removal from the country, you need to know your rights.
Retaining a highly experienced attorney is in your best interests. Michael G. Murray, P.A., has over 15 years of experience in immigration law and two years as a public defender. We approach cases with a tenacity that gets positive results while engaging with clients compassionately.
Our law firm represents clients throughout Austin and elsewhere in Texas. You can trust us to work tirelessly to review your case, help you understand your legal options, answer all your questions, and get you your desired results.