DACA and Advanced Parole

Maria knew someday she would receive this phone call.  Like all bad news, you never think today will be the day.  But, today was Maria’s day. Her dad is terminally ill with cancer and today’s phone call revealed her father had taken a turn for the worst and time was of the essence.

Only once had she met her father face to face at Friendship Park. Their encounter was through steel bars and they connected by a light brush of their fingertips.  

After her divorce, Maria’s mom had moved to the U.S from Mexico.  Maria was just a baby and her older brother Gustavo was a toddler at the time.  Although Maria nearly lived her entire life in the U.S., she is an undocumented immigrant. A spark of hope ignited in Maria when President Obama instituted the DACA program.  Maria learned of a nonprofit immigration legal service provider through a referral program at her high school in Bronx, NY that helped her apply for DACA. Before long she had a social security number and got a job.

Antonio always left too late for work.  His job was exactly 12 minutes away on a good day. He knew this because he had timed the commute.  His shift started in 10 minutes and he frantically sped towards the Ritz Carlton in White Plains, NY. Two blocks from work he encountered stopped cars. He angrily muttered, “Why are they stopped?!” He made the split-second decision to pass them in the left turn lane. What he did not know or see, but soon realized, was that the cars had stopped for a stopped school bus.  Had the children been any closer to the middle of the street, he would have plowed through the group of them. Many years have passed since this incident, but a sick feeling always overwhelms Antonio when he recalls how he could have killed those children.

As another school year is scheduled to begin, it is important to refresh our memory of the traffic law regarding school buses.  These laws keep our children safe as they travel to and from school.  Keep in mind that most injuries and deaths occur when children are crossing the street after exiting the bus. Please slow down until you have passed them.  Violations of traffic laws regarding school buses carry a steep penalty.  A conviction for failing to stop for a school bus carries a 5-point penalty, maximum fine of $1,000 after a third offense in three years, and your driver license will be revoked for a minimum of 6 months after a third offense in three years.  Additionally, the Driver Responsibility Assessment fine is charged when convicted of 6 points or more within an 18-month period. 

What then are the traffic laws regarding stopped school buses, and what vehicles are considered school buses?  A school bus is painted yellow-orange, has red lights on top, and a “SCHOOL BUS” sign.  Included under the protection of school bus traffic laws are vehicles that transport disabled persons. On all roadways in New York State, when a stopped school bus flashes its red lights, traffic that approaches from either direction, even if it is on the opposite side of a divided highway, must stop at least 20 feet away from the bus. This applies even in front of the school and in school parking lots. When the red lights stop flashing or when the bus driver or a traffic officer signals that you can begin driving again. 

A vacation was just what Liza Peeza needed after finishing her first semester at PACE University in Manhattan, New York.  Her ambition in life had always been to become a lawyer.  The reality of long days of school, studying, and temporary jobs had taken their toll.  Liza met her sister AJ and they were headed for home. A road trip with her sister would be nice, but the drive to California would be a killer — over 1,000 miles. As Liza roared through the open road, her hair blew in the wind and she smiled at the fact that home was just 50 miles away. Oh, home sweet home! Flashing lights and a blaring police siren jolted Liza from daydreaming of home. This could not be happening! Noooooooo! Liza was being pulled over for speeding – allegedly going 75 mph in a 55-mph zone.  How would this out of state ticket affect Liza’s NYS driving record?

Liza worried about the ticket on her spotless driving record.  Her worries were soon put to rest when she learned that virtually all out of state traffic convictions do not add violation points to your New York State driving record.  The exception to this is traffic offenses committed in Ontario and Quebec in Canada. 

She was even more delighted to learn that New York State will not suspend a person’s driver license if he or she fails to answer a California traffic violation (scoff). In fact, California is one of six states in which a NYS drivers license will not be suspended for failing answer a traffic violation.  The other states are Alaska, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, and Wisconsin.  In all other states, your New York State driving privileges will be suspended until you submit proof to the NYS DMV that you have resolved your outstanding ticket. 

Aggressive Driving or Road Rage

That morning had just been bad from the moment Liza Jane opened her eyes, awakened by the sound of her cell phone being hurled off the dresser by Toby, the cat. A slight headache from the stressful day she had yesterday still lingered. The silver lining of Toby waking her up was she forgot to set her alarm, and now had 45 minutes to get to her super important appointment in Mt Vernon, NY. Thankfully the roads were not slick this morning, but the other drivers were so slow!!! With teeth clenched, Liza Jane sped and weaved in and out of traffic. A mile from her destination, Liza Jane rear-ended grandma Emily. Witnesses later told police about her aggressive driving.

What does New York State define aggressive driving as? How does it differ from road rage?  Aggressive driving may include speeding, tailgating, frequently changing lanes while not using your signals, passing on the shoulder of the road, running stop signs, and/or red lights, passing a stopped school bus, and being a nuisance to others who are in a vehicle, on a bicycle, or on foot.

Road rage, however, is an escalation of aggressive driving. Road rage incites a driver to either attempt, or to actually cause damage, to another driver. A driver acting out of road rage also makes others fearful by his or her angry hostile behavior. The two can also be thought of this way: aggressive driving generally involves a traffic safety law violation; whereas, road rage usually involves criminal actions or attempts of violent behavior.

Family Based Immigration Petition

Imagine this: You get to see your mom every Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 2pm and only your fingertips can touch through the steel fence. Is she imprisoned? No, actually friends tell you that you are one of the lucky ones to be able to see your mom at Friendship Park on the weekends. Friendship Park is a bi-national beach park, located on the US-Mexico border in San Diego-Tijuana. Families who are separated due to immigration issues are known to travel long distances to meet at Friendship Park to see loved ones.

Living in the United States as an undocumented immigrant is a risk that approximately 11 million people take daily. Why do people take this risk? While reasons vary, one contributing factor is that before President Trump took office, ICE agents generally would not deport an individual unless they had a criminal record, posing a threat to society. However, 2017 has seen an aggressive change to deportations resulting in many being deported who have no criminal record. 

What is the process an individual can take to change his or her status to avoid the situation families who meet at Friendship Park find themselves in? One possible solution is to apply for a Green Card.

In hindsight it was an impulsive and irrational decision, but short of going back in time, the next best thing is to learn from your choices. That is how Shelly felt anyway. She married Dan a week after set met him at Whole Foods in Briarcliff Manor, New York. At the time she was certain that she had found her soul mate.  Now, over a decade later, Shelly was truly in love and wanting to remarry.  Except, she and Dan had never legally divorced.  This was a problem because she was living her dream life in Croton-on-Hudson, New York and engaged to the love of her life.  The bigger problem is that Shelly had no idea where to find Dan. How could she divorce him?

This situation happens more than one may imagine.  New York State matrimonial law (more formally know as New York State Domestic Relations Law) requires a spouse to be notified personally when their mate files for divorce.   What is the process when the estranged spouse cannot be located?  This process is known as Divorce by Publication.  A judge must approve the use of this process. Before this approval is granted, the spouse seeking a divorce, must prove they have completed a thorough search for their spouse. This is done by filing several documents with the court, including an Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry, which outlines all the ways you have searched for your spouse. 

Divorce by Publication - How To Search For Your Spouse

By what methods can you search for your spouse?  There are a lot of different ways to do this. For examples include:

Generally, an uncontested divorce is the fastest and least expensive way to get divorced in New York State. Partly because the spouses have worked out all the details of the divorce and the defendant has signed paperwork agreeing to the divorce. However, the process is slightly different when a spouse cannot be located. When this happens, extra steps and court filings are required.

A publication divorce is started in the same manner as any other uncontested divorce, by filing a Summons with Notice or Summons and Verified Complaint with the court. Then a separate request is filed with the court requesting permission for alternate means of service: service by publication. What this means is that instead of personal service, service by mail or similar service, the plaintiff (the person filing the paperwork) is asking permission to notify or “serve” his or her spouse by means of a newspaper or journal ad.

Publication Divorce Overview
However, before the request for publication can be submitted to the court, the plaintiff must make a good faith effort to find his or her spouse. Documentation of such must be submitted to the court in the form of an Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry, along with a Motion for Service by Publication and Order for Publication.

Fork in the Road. You know your destination, or where you need to be, but are taking an unfamiliar path to get there. Suddenly you stop. “What now?” you ask yourself as you ponder the fork in the path. “Right or left?” “Will both paths lead to the same endpoint, or do they go in two different directions?” “Which one will take me to where I need to go?”

Similar to the literal “fork in the road” are the two paths that lead to the same treasure of Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), more commonly known as a Green Card. The path you will travel is predetermined by where you live and your current U.S. immigration status, or lack thereof. What does this mean? Simply put, there are two ways to get a greencard, and the path you need to take depends on your circumstance.

 Staring down that figurative fork, to the left is what is known as the Visa Processing or Consular Process. To the right, is Adjustment of Status. However, both processes require a petition to be filed on behalf of the immigrant.

The Unsuspecting Victim. Marie knew it was personal, that officer always stared her down when she dropped her kids off at the elementary school. Officer Smith had always held a grudge against her husband for losing the baseball championship game in junior college. And that morning had been one of those mornings when your ask yourself, “What else can go wrong?” So, when Officer Smith ticketed Marie for a cell phone and child safety restraint violation, it was no surprise. Giovanni seemed to be a natural born thrill seeker and it was no surprise that he once again got out of his car seat and wave happily to Officer Smith.

What was a surprise was the bill that came from the DMV after all Marie’s fines had been paid. Marie felt her face turning a shade of reddish purple as she read the words “Driver Responsibility Assessment” and “three-year penalty”. WHAT? WHY? Before her incident with Officer Smith, she was very prideful of her perfect driving record and often boasted about it.

The DMV Driver Responsibility Assessment. WNYS Driver Assessment Feehat is a Driver Responsibility Assessment and when does a driver get charged this fee? There are three instances where this fine is charged. First, a driver assessment fee can be earned by a traffic-related alcohol conviction. Likewise another way to wrack up a DMV assessment is by a traffic-related drug conviction; and the last way to activate a Driver Responsibility Assessment is by accruing to your driving record 11 points within an 18-month period. 

Imagine yourself for a moment planning a night out with someone special. Instead of the night turning out how you had planned, the evening ends with you being forced to walk across the border into Mexico with nothing – just the clothes on your back. On top of that, you are mugged and beaten. 

This is what 23-year-old Juan Montes claims happened to him.  He says that after a date with his girlfriend, he had a bite to eat with a friend, and accidentally left his wallet in their car.  As he was waiting for his ride, CBP agents picked him up. They did not allow him to get his wallet, which contained documentation he is under active protection from DACA through 2018. After being taken to a detention center, he was walked across the border.    

Details to Juan’s story are still transpiring as his activist lawyers battle his case. The government says this is not the correct record of events.  We can only trust with time the truth comes out and all is made well.