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Gang involvement need not be proven to affect immigration

Many people who are living in America but are not yet citizens would likely agree that immigration is a complex matter. Your process of getting into the United States may have been long and complicated. And now that you reside in the States, you probably will do everything within your power to remain.

However, many noncitizen New Yorkers face trouble with immigration authorities. This might include being accused of gang membership. Especially for those seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), such allegations could significantly alter the course of kids' lives.

What a recent report suggests

A recent report from the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) examined the allegations of gang involvement for immigrants within the state. Its findings include:

  • United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) often uses a minor's alleged gang involvement to deny SIJS. In many cases, officials make these denials without the agency providing any proof of the affiliation.
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documentation about gang involvement often refers to an immigrant's tattoos, clothing and friends, rather than specific details related to the alleged gang activities.
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal or adjustment of status may be denied due to gang-related allegations.

Suspicions of gang activity may also lead to detainment during USCIS asylum interviews.

Ways you might fight allegations of gang activity

If immigration officials believe you are involved with gang activity, they may look at your school records, social media accounts and other aspects of your life. If they find anything that they feel would support their allegations, they will probably try to hold that against you.

If you have a hearing coming up, you may want to prepare your explanation for why returning to your home country would be unsafe. Be sure you take time to review your social media posts for anything officials may consider questionable. In addition, review the photos, music and text messages on your cellphone. This might help you make a case about your good character as you present your best self, despite potential claims you may face.

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