The Putnam Examiner

Legal Rights of Immigrants Discussed in Brewster

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With immigration a hot topic nationally, particularly since the new Trump administration came to office, a forum on the rights of immigrants was held Sunday at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Brewster.

The event was sponsored by the Putnam Progressives and the Hudson Valley Patriots for Immigration Reform. The panelists were attorneys Vlad Tomic and Marcia Guevara and Putnam County District Attorney Bob Tendy, a Republican in his first term.

Tomic was born and raised in Serbia and came to the United States in 2001. He is a criminal defense and immigration attorney. One of his specialties is working with those accused of driving after drinking or using drugs.

Tomic said immigrants and citizens needed to know their rights when being stopped by police. Tomic said those stopped by police have the right to remain silent, meaning they don’t need to give police any information other than providing a government issued identification card.

“My advice is not to talk to the police without an attorney present,” he said.

Tomic said those accused of a crime have the right to an attorney, which many people are not aware of. If someone accused of a crime cannot afford an attorney they have the right to have a lawyer provided to them for free, he said.

Guevara was born in Florida and raised in Venezuela.


Individuals who want to come to the United States for a period of time need to obtain a visa before they come to the United States, Guevara said. If you overstay your visa, you will be barred from reentering the United States for three years, she noted. But if you overstay your visa for more than six months you will be barred from coming back to the United States for 10 years, she added.

Guevara stressed that immigrants who need legal help should only hire an immigration attorney.

“The best advice is to have an attorney,” she said. Non-profit organizations can provide immigration lawyers if an immigrant cannot afford to hire one, she said, adding immigrants do not have the right to government-provided immigration attorneys.

For those who qualify, it takes about 150 day to get asylum status, Guevara said.

Tendy stressed it was not the responsibility of Putnam County to deport undocumented immigrants.

“We don’t deport people,” he said.

Tendy noted that ten undocumented immigrants were deported from Putnam County by the federal government last year and those who were forced to leave were convicted of felony crimes.

One question for the panel was how much will an immigration attorney charge for his or her services. Guevara said immigration attorneys typically charge between $5,000 and $15,000, depending on what an immigrant was seeking the lawyer to do.

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