Lisa Tehlirian has been a family focused Immigration attorney since 2004. Prior to graduating from law school, Tehlirian worked as a paralegal for an Immigration firm. Tehlirian’s own parents are Immigrants from the Country formerly known as Yugoslavia, so she has always had a personal and professional interest in people from other Countries. Lisa enjoys this area of law because her clients are so appreciative of her work, and the nature of this practice allows for a close interaction with her clients and their families. “It can be very emotional for the clients, when a loved one is in danger of leaving the Country, or when they are able to reunite through a proper Immigration process. I have received hugs, tears, flowers, and Baklava from appreciative clients over the years,” says Tehlirian.
Some of the trends in Immigration Law that Tehlirian has observed over the last few years, include:
- More efficient customer service through the USCIS (US Citizen & Immigration Services);
- More deportations, raids, and an increase in enforcement efforts;
- Heightened security measures at the border by USCBP (US Customs and Border Protection), detecting criminal histories and scrutinizing individuals’ admissibility to the country.
A common misconception clients have about the Immigration process, is that it is simply a matter of form filling and that an attorney is not needed to assist individuals through the process. Tehlirian says, “this is comparable to a tax payer handling their own tax return. While they can technically do it themselves, it’s best to work with a trained professional so the process is handled correctly and in a timely manner. The IRS(Internal Revenue Service) is significantly more forgiving than DHS (Department of Homeland Security), who may deny a case, or refer to it to Immigration Court proceedings if mishandled.”
A recent announcement made on August 18th by the Department of Homeland Security has been of interest to some of Tehlirian’s clients. The announcement stated, in part, that:
“Under the President’s direction, for the first time ever the Department of Homeland Security has prioritized the removal of people who have been convicted of crimes in the United States. And they have succeeded; in 2010 DHS removed 79,000 more people who had been convicted of a crime compared to 2008. Today, they announced that they are strengthening their ability to target criminals even further by making sure they are not focusing our resources on deporting people who are low priorities for deportation. This includes individuals such as young people who were brought to this country as small children, and who know no other home. It also includes individuals such as military veterans and the spouses of active-duty military personnel. It makes no sense to spend our enforcement resources on these low-priority cases when they could be used with more impact on others, including individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes.” (Click here for full announcement.)
Tehlirian noted that “some people misinterpreted this announcement as a law change or a form of amnesty, when in fact it is a method for DHS to prioritize cases pending before the Immigration Courts, or those that will be placed into proceedings. This announcement does not provide a method to confer Legal Status. It is simply a temporary suspension of an immigration court case.”
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) issued a warning to consumers advising them what the new Obama Administration policy is and is not, and cautioned individuals to consult with an immigration lawyer for further questions. Click here to view warning. At this juncture, nothing definitive has come through the Obama Administration on this issue and until a law is passed, the announcement should be seen as merely a preliminary advisement.
Tehlirian noted that when Immigration questions or issues arise, individuals should beware of persons holding themselves out as “Immigration Consultants” or “Notarios”, because they mislead the public and may charge high fees and engage in the unauthorized practice of law. Clients should consult with a lawyer who specializes in Immigration Law for their type of situation, not someone who dabbles in it. There are also sub-specialties within Immigration Law. Some Immigration lawyers focus on the Employer side of the law, while others focus on families.
Tehlirian sees Immigration as a growing area of law and welcomes other practitioners into the Metro Area. “This is a great place to practice Immigration Law, since we have one of the largest ports of entries in the Country at the US/Canadian border. I encourage law students interested in Immigration to pursue this area of law, once they become a lawyer.”
Points to Ponder and Share:
What questions or concerns do you have about Immigration Law?
Have you ever sought out or been approached by an Immigration Consultant or “Notario” for immigration assistance? If so, what was your experience?
Do you view the current Immigration system as a proper set of checks and balances designed to protect US Citizens from dangerous people with criminal records who try and enter the Country illegally, or do you see it is unnecessarily burdensome to individuals and their families who come to this Country with hopes and dreams of a better life, just like the first Immigrants?
Lisa Tehlirian is an attorney at Ellis Porter, PLC, who specializes in family-based immigration law, inadmissibility and removability issues, naturalization and citizenship, and employment-based immigration law. She enjoys the complexities of the immigration practice, and is passionate about assisting clients achieve their immigration objectives. For more information, visit her profile on the firm’s website.