By Attorney Ruby L. Powers
Earlier this month, on February 2, 2018, the Board of Immigration Appeals decided the Matter of Egidijus Siniauskas, 27 Dec. 201 (BIA 2018). The decision pertains to the effects of DWIs on immigration custody bond determinations. This ruling should be examined thoroughly based on the current events revolving around the number of undocumented immigrants being picked up by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Mr. Siniauskas is a native of Lithuania who overstayed his nonimmigrant visa almost 20 years ago. During this time, he had 3 prior DWI convictions between 2006 and 2007 and was arrested for his fourth offense in 2017. As it has become common the last few months, DHS took him into custody and declined to set bond. The Board of Immigration Appeals concluded that Mr. Siniaskas did not meet his burden of proof in determining whether he was a danger to the community in bond proceedings. This is important because the court has established that family ties and community roots are not as relevant factors as is the respondent’s criminal activity. Even though there was a 10-year gap between the offenses, proof of vigorous steps towards rehabilitation, and the surroundings behind the fourth incident since Mr.Siniauskas was charged for his 4th DWI on the one-year anniversary of his mother died, the court still felt he posed a danger to the community. This ruling has established that criminal offenses like drunk driving will be having tougher consequences in detained cases and like in Mr. Siniaskas case, can lead to more severe actions like removal proceedings. It is important to acknowledge the importance of DWI and DUI charges. These actions have severe consequences for non-US Citizens and it is extremely important to speak with an attorney as soon as an event like this occurs to provide legal assistance.