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Tougher immigration penalties may be imposed

Many Arizona residents are concerned about immigration issues. They may be immigrants themselves, have family members who are interested in immigrating, or may know people who are unsure of their immigration status. Changes in immigration law and policy has made many of them even more anxious.

The federal government has announced a policy of getting tough on immigrants who break the law while in the United States, as well as individuals who are in the country illegally. For example, immigrants who have been convicted of or even charged with crimes may be prioritized for deportation. In addition, a Justice Department memo stated that felony penalties might be applied to individuals who assist in helping people arrive in the United States illegally. These penalties would also be applied to those who "harbor" undocumented immigrants.

There is still a significant amount of uncertainty about these directives coming from the Justice Department, and this situation may take some time to resolve. Advocacy groups are challenging some of these policies, and it is not entirely clear to whom some of these new policies will apply. As a result, immigrants and their loved ones may be confused about their next steps in remaining in the United States or being reunited with family members.

Individuals who are concerned about these issues may benefit from speaking with an attorney who has experience with U.S. immigration law. The attorney could review the client's situation and make recommendations regarding his or her circumstances. These recommendations may include strategies for avoiding deportation as well as assisting in helping family members obtain visas or green cards.

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