The Houston Press recently ran the story of a Houston Chef who was detained for weeks after an international trip. The individual was a Permanent Resident, but was detained due to a misdemeanor assault charge. The government argued that he was not eligible for bond because he was returning from international travel - a technical legal issue many permanent residents are unaware of. Criminal charges (even those that are pled down to misdemeanor-level offenses or dismissed - can create problems for any non-U.S.-citizen who travels out of the country. It is important for anyone who wants to travel internationally to consult with an experienced, specialized immigration attorney before traveling internationally or even within 100 miles of an international border.
In 2008, Hurricane Ike caused severe damage to much of the Houston area. It happened just weeks before the Presidential election in which Barack Obama would become the first Democratic Party President elected to office since Bill Clinton. This time is particularly vivid in my memory – I had moved to Houston the year before and was in my first year of practicing immigration law. Several of my clients had applied for citizenship, and their applications had been approved. They were eager to vote in the election, but there was one problem – they had to take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States before they actually became citizens and could vote. In Houston, we have Oath Ceremonies once per month, often with over 1500 people who have been approved to become citizens naturalizing at each ceremony. When Ike came through, it caused damage to the facility at which the oath ceremony was to take place. The Houston Chronicle published an article entitled Ike Put Their Citizenship- and Their Votes – On Hold. Then the Houston U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office found a new venue for the ceremony and it occurred in time for new citizens to register to vote in the November 2008 election. My clients and many others approved for naturalization breathed a sigh of relief.