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Thursday, October 2, 2014

False ACS Allegations in New York Can Weigh Heavily on Families

It is illegal in New York City to make a false report of child abuse to the Administration of Children's Services (ACS). However, that doesn't stop people from doing so. Some may genuinely believe they witnessed a child placed in harm's way. Some encounter ambiguous conduct and draw mistaken conclusions.

There are also unfortunately individuals who intentionally make false claims, usually with the goal of hurting the adult or adults in the situation. It could be a spurned lover, a domestic violence abuser or an ex fighting a bitter custody battle. Even foster care and adoptive parents become the target of these calls, stemming from the biological parents'  inability to claim any other connection with their children. Usually, the accused will never learn who made the report, as it is all done confidentially. This is another reason why accused parents are at a disadvantage in countering these claims.

Our Brooklyn ACS defense attorneys know the truly unfortunate aspect of false reporting, in addition to the difficulty it places on the unfairly accused and their families, is that it draws valuable resources away from those children who are truly in danger. It diverts help from the children who need it most.

The system was built to encourage people to speak out and to do so freely whenever there is a possibility children might be harmed. ACS officials, quoted in this October 2013 report, said they do not track incidents of false reports, so were unable to give even a rough percentage. However, we do know that about 6 out of 10 reports return unfounded. Officials say that doesn't necessarily mean the false reports were malicious, but they have meted harm on these families nonetheless.

These instances are more likely to arise from the city's poorest neighborhoods, like East New York and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Officials say children are removed more frequently from the eight poorest boroughs than in the other 42 neighborhoods combined. Someone with an axe to grind knows full well very little evidence is necessary to set off an investigation.

Even more troubling, ACS doesn't flag instances where repeated claims against the same individual or family have proven untrue. They don't want to risk the possibility the 13th report is real, and overlook it.There is a statute requiring ACS to report false claims to prosecutors, but rarely do these cases actually land in court.

The impact of these reports is most greatly felt in situations where the parent actually is struggling with a serious issue, such as depression, domestic violence or illegal immigration. These real problems, combined with a false report of neglect or abuse, might cause child welfare workers to remove the children, rather than offering support to the family in what would be in the best interest of everyone involved.

A false ACS report can be terrifying for a family. But you should not have to go through it alone. Our ACS attorneys are experienced in challenging flimsy evidence and ensuring the truth will prevail. Too often, parents make the mistake of believing they will be vindicated simply because they are telling the truth. However, this is not always the case, and given what is at stake, parents can't afford to be passive. Immediate action is imperative. 

A domestic relations lawyer can help you safeguard your interests, your reputation and your family as you counter these claims.

For help confronting a false ACS report in New York City, call our offices at (718) 864-2011.

Additional Resources:

False Abuse Reports Trouble Child Welfare Experts, Oct. 4, 2014, By Rachel Blustain, City Limits

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Friday, May 2, 2014

I am a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident – Can My Green Card Be Taken Away?

Most of our clients are well aware that the process of obtaining a green card through a U.S. employer or a U.S. relative can take several months to several years. Because of the lengthy processing times, it is typically a cause for much celebration once a foreign national receives the green card and becomes a lawful permanent resident (LPR).

Many lawful permanent residents think that once they receive their green card, their responsibilities are over and they do not need to worry about their immigration status in the United States ever again. Unfortunately, that is not exactly the case. When a foreign national becomes an LPR, the national does enjoy the unrestricted rights to live, work, and travel in and outside of the U.S. without the need for obtaining a visa. However, becoming an LPR also subjects the foreign national to many critical responsibilities. If the LPR fails to fulfill these responsibilities, the U.S. government can take away the LPR’s green card and permanent residence.

Our offices in New York help LPRs fulfill their responsibilities and maintain their permanent residence. We are happy to provide these services to clients all over the country.

What are an LPR’s Responsibilities?

When a foreign national becomes an LPR, the national must make sure to pay taxes on all income earned in the United States. The responsibility to report income and pay taxes rests wholly on the LPR and the U.S. government takes this responsibility very, very seriously. Additionally, it is also the responsibility of the LPR to refrain from voting in U.S. elections. Only U.S. citizens may vote in elections and voting unlawfully is considered a very serious crime in the United States.

Moreover, it is also the LPR’s responsibility to actually live and reside in the United States. The failure to meet this responsibility is one of the most frequently cited reasons why LPRs lose their green cards, because many LPRs will spend several months to several years outside of the country and will not maintain ties to the U.S. or apply for a re-entry permit. Upon trying to re-enter the country after such a long absence, the immigration officers feel that these LPRs have abandoned their permanent residency and do not allow the LPRs to enter.

If you are an LPR and you need to travel outside of the U.S. for a period of six months or longer, contact our Brooklyn or New York office and speak to one of our skilled attorneys who can explain how you can apply for a re-entry permit and how you can maintain your permanent residency.




Monday, November 11, 2013

What is a Green Card? How do I get a Green Card in New York?

Green Cards in New York

What are Green Cards?

A Green card,  known as Unite States Permanent Resident cards, are identification cards that indicate, though the person identified on the card is not a United States citizen, they are still authorized by law to live and work within the U.S. on a permanent basis. Many look at green cards as an important step towards someday becoming a full-fledged U.S. citizen.

Who can get a Card?

Family Members of U.S. Citizens

One of the most common ways for people to get a green card is for them to apply for it based on the citizenship of one of their family members. A person may be qualified to apply for a green card if they are:

  • An immediate relative of U.S. citizens such as spouses, children, and parents
  • A family member of a person who fits in to a “preference category” such as a brother and/or sister over 21 years of age, married children of any age, and unmarried sons/daughters over 21
  • Family members of green card holders

There are also a number of special categories that a person may belong to making them eligible for a green card. Many of these categories are tailored towards vulnerable persons who are or were related to a U.S. citizen and towards people who have suffered domestic abuse. These special categories have additional requirements on top of the basic green card qualifications and are more difficult to get.

People Offered Jobs within the U.S.

Certain jobs that are offered to non-citizens within the United States may help a person qualify for a green card. With the employer’s cooperation, non-citizens who are offered a permanent job within the U.S. can apply for a green card. The application process is sometimes burdensome for the employer, so it is important to make sure that you establish in advance that your employer is willing to work with you throughout the green card application process if you are offered a permanent job within the U.S. and are considering accepting it partly because you want a green card.

Also in the job-related category of green card candidates are those individuals who have a special skill set that is in high demand within the U.S. or those whose investment creates jobs within the U.S. Additionally, if a person interested in a green card has established himself as an Alien of extraordinary ability or has received a National Interest Waiver, he or she may also qualify for a green card.

People Granted Asylum or Refugee Status

People who have already been granted entrance to the United States based on their status as asylum-seekers or as refugees are eligible to apply for a green card after living in the U.S. for at least a year. People granted refugee status are known as refugees, while those who are granted asylum are known as asylees. The ability to apply for a green card after a year of residency within the U.S. may also extend to family members of asylees and refugees. It’s important to note that if you are allowed in to the U.S. as a refugee you must apply for permanent resident status after living in the U.S. for 1 year.

Other Ways to Become a Permanent Resident

There are a number of other ways to get a green card, but they are the exception rather than the rule when it comes to being granted a green card. Because family, asylum and refugee status may affect the success of a green card application, working with an experienced attorney is the best way to determine whether or not someone is qualified to apply for a green card in the United States. 

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