In a stunning decision, Judge Andrew Arthur ended deportation proceedings against Paula Spiers, a 43 year-old British citizen who immigrated to the United States over 40 years ago. Spiers, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania resident, was facing removal from the United States due to three minor convictions that date back to 2008. The charges range from retail theft to possession of controlled dangerous substances.
“Ms. Spiers was granted Cancellation of Removal and immediately released from custody following a deportation trial,” stated Raymond Lahoud, Spiers’ deportation defense attorney and a partner of one of America’s leading deportation defense law firms, Easton, Pennsylvania based Baurkot and Baurkot. “Cancellation of Removal is a form of relief that is intended to give immigrants, like Ms. Spiers, a second chance at being immigrants of this great nation,” said Lahoud, who has handled hundreds of deportation cases. “We are not saying that crimes should not be punished, but, in this case, Ms. Spiers served the criminal penalties and has become a new person. The positive aspects in her life far outweigh any negatives. She comes from a good family and, quite simply, she fell victim to the vices that so many of us face each day,” said Lahoud. “Her deportation would have caused her to suffer the most extreme of depression as she would have been forced to return to a nation that she has not been to for over 40 years. She needed help, not deportation,” said Lahoud.
Deportation proceedings were commenced against Spiers in December of 2010. She was arrested shortly after being charged and was detained by the Department of Homeland Security until her recent release.
Given her controlled substance conviction, Spiers was subject to the mandatory detention law, which prevented her release on bail until her deportation case was completed. The mandatory detention law has been heavily criticized by advocates of immigration reform for years, given its harsh consequences. “Unfortunately, Ms. Spiers suffered for over three months in prison, where she was subject to callous conditions because of an antiquated mandatory detention statute that prevents individualized review of each potential deportee and, instead, lumps all these individuals together—the good and the bad,” said Lahoud, who has been an advocate of reforming the law. “While Ms. Spiers only spent three months in custody, others spend years, pending resolution of their deportation cases, regardless of how minimal the underlying criminal charge was. Immigrants suffer for years, and are put into cells with killers and dangerous narcotics traffickers,” said Lahoud, “something has to be done.”
Spiers promised that she is a changed person and that her family stands behind her. She declared to the Judge that she has a new mission: to help others think before they act and to let them know that there is so much more in life than drugs.