President Donald Trump, on Jan. 25, signed an Executive Order allowing the deportation of individuals, including Texans, for reasons that were not previously grounds for deportation. But, this order also has the potential to be misused by litigants in family law matters and impact parties’ rights.

Under the President’s order, certain obvious criminal acts continue to constitute grounds for deportation. These include terrorism, crimes of dishonesty, a felony, drug offenses, treason, family abuse, espionage, sabotage, failure to register as a sex offender, firearm violations, specified illegal immigration activities and human rights violations.

However, the order is also much more expansive. New grounds include being charged of a criminal offense, committing an act that may be a criminal offense, fraud or willful misrepresentation in official matters or applying to a government agency, abuse in any public benefit program, being covered by a removal order without being deported and posing a risk to safety or national security in the judgment of an immigration officer.

Acts, such as drunk driving, public drunkenness, drunk driving and using another person’s social security to work may led to deportation. An alien only must be charged with these acts and conviction is not necessary for deportation.

These expanded provisions can affect family law proceedings. Litigants may use the threat of deportation or reporting an alleged act as a tool to escape legal obligations or gain an advantage. Aliens may be deported at any time before or during hearings, which could stop or prevent child support or alimony hearings and enforcement of court orders.

A spouse who is a parent or is married to an alien may also threaten to have the alien deported, if the alien tries to collect support. Likewise, in custody and domestic violence cases, offenders may threaten spouses with reporting their immigration status to forestall legal action.

A person seeking relief may also face insurmountable obstacles, if their spouse is deported under these expanded grounds. Spousal and child support may be uncollectable if a debtor is deported because there is no way to enforce these orders across international borders.

A person facing these family legal issues should seek legal representation to help assure that their rights are protected. An attorney can assist litigants with seeking legal options to pursue their options in court.


Source: WTOP, “Trump’s order provides ammunition for litigants in family law matters,” Thomas Velarde, Feb. 27, 2017