All Immigrants in New York have Right to Trial by Jury

by Jose Enrique Perez

Just last month, the New York State’s highest court said that the U.S. Constitution guarantees jury trials to non-citizens charged with crimes that could subject them to deportation. It is very likely that the case will go to the United States Supreme Court for final determination.

The Court of Appeals rejected an argument by Bronx county prosecutors that deportation is merely a civil consequence of criminal convictions, and the Sixth Amendment did not require jury trials for defendants charged with minor yet deportable crimes.

The court found that “It is now beyond cavil that the penalty of deportation is among the most extreme and that it may, in some circumstances, rival incarceration in its loss of liberty.”

The decision means non-citizens will be entitled to jury trials even if their alleged deportable crimes carry maximum prison terms of six months or less.

The risk for deportation of a non-U.S. citizen accused of a low-level crime is enough to guarantee that individual have a trial by jury rather than a bench trial.

The Bronx District Attorney said the decision addressed the “harsh realities” of possible deportation, but also threatened “serious backlogs and disparities in the administration of justice” in state courts and conflicted with Supreme Court precedents. She said she may appeal to that body.

The decision, over Sixth Amendment fair trial rights under the U.S. Constitution for persons facing deportation, was one of first impression for the Court of Appeals. It was brought before the court by Saylor Suazo, a non-citizen who was found guilty in a bench trial on various charges related to an alleged assault. He had over stayed his visa.

Because of the importance of the case and its consequences, the Bronx District Attorney said she was considering taking an appeal on the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court since it was decided on federal constitutional grounds.

The key issue in the case was the gradation of the criminal charge Suazo had been tried upon. The Criminal Law in New York allows a defendant to be denied a trial by jury in New York City if the maximum penalty of a charge is less than six months in jail. The same rule does not apply outside New York City.

You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about the new immigration policies. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with the filing of applications with USCIS. Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.

I represent individuals in immigration cases. If you have any questions or concerns about an immigration case or potential case, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at The Law Office of Jose Perez is located at 120 East Washington Street, Suite 925, Syracuse, New York 13202. Now with offices in Buffalo and Rochester!!! Please look for my next article in the January edition. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2019!

What is depression and how do I treat it?

by Adrián Martínez

Mood can affect many things in your life. When you feel down or hopeless, you might also notice changes in sleep, appetite, concentration, or energy. You might feel less interested in everyday activities or hobbies, or you might feel like you are moving more slowly. At your worst, you may also feel like you want to hurt yourself or end your life. If you are regularly feeling any combination of these, you might have depression. You may be inclined to dismiss it or let it continue because you think it will eventually get better. You may think that seeking help is admitting weakness, and you would not be alone in that mentality. Despite whatever you have learned from your family or culture, depression is an illness that is both remarkably common and treatable.

The rate of depression among Latinos in the U.S. is about that of the general population, which is about 7% (1). Among the Latino ethnicities, Puerto Ricans and Cubans are most likely to experience depressive symptoms. Within the same ethnicities, people born in the U.S., second-generation immigrants, or people living longer in the U.S. are more likely to report depression. Compared to white Americans, Latinos with mental health disorders are much less likely to seek mental health specialists for care. Furthermore, undertreated depression is up to four times higher in Latinos without health insurance compared to Latinos with health insurance (2). Needless to say, the Latino population has multiple barriers preventing access to treatments for this common condition, not the least of which are social stigma and lack of insurance.

If you think you may be depressed or are experiencing any persistent issues with stress, anxiety, or substance use, consider going to a mental health provider for help. Your primary care provider would be good to see initially to start medication or to get a referral for a psychiatrist or therapist. Keep in mind that, with few exceptions, what you say to your mental health provider is confidential. Your relationship with your provider should be one of trust and an understanding that he or she is there to help. Remember that there are plenty of options for medication and therapy, so you should not give up if the first treatment you try does not work. If you would like to search for providers on your own, you can go to or call the National Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-4357) for guidance. If you are feeling suicidal, go to your local hospital, call 911, or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).

1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2017). Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Retrieved from
2. Wassertheil-Smoller, Sylvia et al. “Depression, anxiety, antidepressant use, and cardiovascular disease among Hispanic men and women of different national backgrounds: results from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos” Annals of epidemiology vol. 24,11 (2014): 822-30.

Adrian Martinez is a Puerto Rican born in California and raised in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Florida. He graduated in 2014 from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Biology and is currently a fourth-year medical student attending the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He is on the executive board of the school’s chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) and will be pursuing a career in psychiatry.

The Day Syracuse Revolted

by Maximilian Eyle

In October of 1851, roughly 2,500 Syracuse citizens came together in the city’s downtown. With a battering ram, they broke down the door to the jail and successfully freed a man called William “Jerry” Henry. Jerry had escaped from slavery years before and started a new life as a barrel maker in Upstate New York. He would have been sent back to a life of slavery, but Syracuse residents stepped in and secured his freedom. Jerry was immediately sent north to Canada where he was safe from arrest. This event is remembered as the “Jerry Rescue”, and is one of the proudest moments in Syracuse’s history.

At that time, the United States was divided into states with slavery, and those without. In 1850, a federal law known as the Fugitive Slave Act was passed which required that states without slavery help capture and return any escaped slaves. Jerry was arrested under this new law and put in jail. This caused tremendous outrage among the locals. Abolitionist Samuel Ringold Ward expressed his disgust at a public meeting prior to the Rescue, stating: “We are witnessing such a sight as, I pray, we may never look upon again. A man in chains, in Syracuse!”

The story of the Jerry Rescue has the advantages of being both legendary and true. It speaks to the power of a united local community pushing back in the face of an overzealous federal government enforcing an unjust law. The Civil War may still have been ten years away, but protests like this helped hasten the end of slavery. Today, we see similar local resistance as Syracuse refuses to use its police to search for or detain illegal immigrants despite federal pressure to do so. As we look to the future, we should remember the progress that can be made when Syracuse stands as a united and independent city.

Maximilian Eyle is a native of Syracuse, NY and a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He works as a media consultant and writes each month about a variety of issues for Spanish-language papers across New York State. Maximilian has a love of Hispanic culture and learned Spanish while living in Spain where he studied and worked as an English teacher. He can be contacted at

And the day is here!

by Lilia M. Fiallo

A Moment of Reflection

I removed the old and frayed suit that I dragged for so many years! I stopped to think for a moment, the important thing that I am as a person, as a human being, as a professional, away from ties and rusted chains that hung in my mind. Now I am which was, that someone wanted to archive!…

It’s a pleasure to see you! When I entered, I went to the counter but looked at background and I saw you, therefore after I completed my order, I came here. It is good that I find you again!, I have so much to tell you, How have you been?

Well, says Brenda, here we are, the two of us. It is also a pleasure to see you. But before speaking of me, I want to tell you Genaro that I always remember you with special appreciation. Do you remember Genaro when our hour of break were at the same time? Yes, Brenda!

Although the time was short, we enjoyed the breakfast or the lunch. Our talks in which I imagined each episode told, I remember as if it were today. I am a deep admirer of your profession, and you know, how could you deal with such personal load and work? Masterfully, do you let problems container to leaving home, to put all the concentration on your work?

You climbed a mountain to the top, with all the obstacles and difficulties. Living a hell such as yours, by a partner that gives little or nothing good, is a feat. If when you were students at the University, she badly carried you along the path of doom, and you, as a lamb carrying slaughter you walked at her side.

Thanks to your intelligence you did join the company with an important position and an enviable salary that made you happy, largely to please her, although the money you gave her was not enough.

How many good women had wanted to be with a good guy as you?

Love, dedication, sacrifices and few other things for maintaining a family may be so normal in the everyday life of any person but there are beings like you crossing the line of danger, until they expose their integrity.

I remember those mornings or afternoons when we came back after breakfast or lunch, walking along the road up to the office and at some point you raised up your shirt to show me the wounds in your skin which she kicked you with those hand s of wild beast? That happened many years ago and I without comment, silenced before such outrage, was incredulous, in front to a reality.

At this moment, this phenomenon, it is still a reality that grows and that all silent, nobody wants to face, no one wants to commit. Currently in America and Europe is a reality with many men victims of women who hide under their gender because they know that we are in a double moral society, they have the win and that’s their card up his sleeve. They do not work, nor contribute a grain of sand.

Genaro it is incredible interfamily violence against man. Many of these victims are chained, abducted, beaten physically and psychologically abused. There are slave cases, where the man gives her all his salary and she gives him a few coins for transportation back and forth.

There are many reasons why a man does not complaint the physical or verbal abuse:

-The mere fact of thinking that they will be cause for ridicule and mocked.
-They will not believe him.
-Mind surrounds it, betrays him and thinks: “What will become of me, alone and without her?
-For sex.
-For money.
-The custom became law.
-The man has always been the losing

Oh, Genaro! And how’s your marriage?

Not Brenda that was not more! I finally got divorced and found myself again. In October I will turn 50 years old and I will marry a colleague of yours next December.


Brenda it´s been a pleasure to see you because I’m going to appoint to you Adviser of the International Center for men who demand their rights for a better world, due to:

I removed the old and frayed suit that I dragged for so many years! I stopped to think for a moment, the important thing that I am…

Lilia M. Fiallo was born in Bogotá, Colombia, where,

between tasks and free time, she found a place to write about subjects, somehow forgotten by others. With gold letters engraved in her memory, she began her working life, in the heart of the technical part, of the air traffic control of her native country. In the midst of aeronautical phraseology and codes, the world of aviation gave her one of the highest experiences, because of the precision required by this craft, where a single mistake could cost many lives. It is there, where in her concern to communicate her ideas, she begins to write with dedication, themes a little relegated by society, the Church and the State. Discovering a truth that nobody wants to talk about, but much more real and everyday, than it seems. It is thus, as it appears, her first work, “Parir por parir”. You can find her book at for sale in Amazon

How to solve the opioid crisis

by Maximilian Eyle

The prohibition of opioids in the United States has been raging for almost a century. The Anti-Heroin Act of 1924 began the criminalization of importing and possessing opioids. Now, after countless people have been imprisoned and an immeasurable amount of money and resources have spent, have the opioids disappeared? No. On the contrary, we are in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Each year, the number of fatal opioid overdoses rises, with the CDC’s estimates for 2017 reaching a record 72,000 deaths. Let us be very clear: these are preventable deaths. Through legislative change and the implementation of proven harm reduction strategies, we have the option to adopt a drug policy based on compassion and evidence-based results rather than on punishment and propaganda.

The presence of opioids has become common throughout the United States. Some come from the black market and have been produced illegally and without government regulation, while others are prescribed and produced by registered pharmaceutical companies. A common misconception is that overdoses only stem from illegally produced opioids. In reality, a full 40% of these overdoses are due to prescription opioids. Incredibly, more than a third of Americans used a legally prescribed opioid in 2015. This number does not include illegal opioid use. This brings us to our first recommendation in the fight against opioid overdoses: Narcan should be in every household across America.

What is Narcan? Also known as Naloxone, this drug blocks the absorption of opioids at the receptor-level. Opioids effect our respiration, which is why someone suffering from an overdose may stop breathing. By pausing the effects of the opioids in the body, Narcan saves lives by restoring the person’s breathing. It is FDA approved and can be administered easily via a nasal spray. Even a child can do it. It was intentionally developed for use by those without medical training who may arrive at the scene first, such as friends or family. Narcan is not a replacement for calling 911, but can save the person’s life while EMTs are on the way.

Just as we have a fire extinguisher in every building and house to protect us in the event of a fire, we should also have Narcan readily available at all times. Harm reduction centers will often provide free Narcan kits and training to those who want it, and an increasing amount of other institutions are doing the same. The New York City government has even started distributing Narcan through a range of channels as part of its HealingNYC initiative.

Raising the availability and awareness of Narcan in our society is a powerful anti-overdose strategy. But legislative change must also be brought about if we truly hope to disrupt the opioid epidemic. Prohibition is a primary driver of overdoses and actually exacerbates the harm that these drugs can cause. We know that banning opioids does not make them disappear. On the contrary, it drives their use and production underground which is far more dangerous. Users do not know the content, strength, or dosage of what they are ingesting. Imagine if every time you needed cough syrup – it came in an unmarked bottle and was always either stronger or weaker than the last time you bought it. Obviously, the chances of you accidentally taking too much would skyrocket. Alcohol is also a potentially dangerous drug, but we learned in the 1920s that prohibiting it only made things worse.

Clearly, some form of regulated access would be preferable to the current system. This has already been tried and proven to work in many other countries, particularly in Europe. Switzerland’s program has gained considerable attention as a success story. Starting in the 1990s, “Zurich became the first place in the world where therapy programs handed out heroin prescriptions to heavy and long-term opiate users for whom other substitutes wouldn’t work.” As a result, the rate of new users, new HIV infections, overdoses, and other problems associated with opioid use all plummeted.

It is up to us as voters and individuals to drive this change forward in the fight against opioid overdoses. The steps are relatively straightforward: Equip yourself with Narcan and learn how to administer it (it’s very simple). Vote for candidates who support harm reduction measures and non-prohibitionist approaches to our drug policy. Getting “tough on drugs” has only made things worse – it’s time for compassion and pragmatic change. Lastly, support your local harm reduction centers. By tackling overdose prevention, HIV and HCV testing, sex education, syringe access, and more – these facilities do wonders for the communities they serve.

Maximilian Eyle is a native of Syracuse, NY and a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He works as a media consultant and writes each month about a variety of issues for Spanish-language papers across New York State. Maximilian has a love of Hispanic culture and learned Spanish while living in Spain where he studied and worked as an English teacher. He can be contacted at

United by the Music

United by the Music
by Félix Martínez Marrero

What is trova and how did it become part of typical Puerto Rican music? When is it heard? The trova is the poetic composition composed to be sung. It is the typical music of our ancestry. The trova is significant as a cultural expression. It is heard all year, although some relate it mostly to the Christmas season.

Like most Puerto Ricans who emigrate to the United States in search of a prosperous future for their families, 48 years ago, my parents and their 11 children did the same. One of those children was me. Although I came to Rochester as a young man, I have never stopped longing for my beautiful island, our culture and the neighborhood where I was born. That’s how music became my refuge, becoming the consolation of longing for the soil where I was born. From here came my dream of one day to record a CD of typical music. The years went by and I continued to be involved in music with Pedro Núñez, the Maso Rivera of Rochester who may rest in peace and Marcos Santiago, among others. Even if the temperature was below zero, I did not miss a “parranda”.

Six years ago I started trying to make my dream come true, but for one reason or another I could not achieve it. One day, talking with my wife Margarita, I decided to start communicating with friends who are involved in the music to see if I could achieved my purpose. I spoke with my friend Eliú De Jesús in Florida, who put me in touch with Josean Feliberty Colon in Puerto Rico and I from Rochester, NY, how would we achieve this get-together? It was this way that JFC Home Studio in Ciales, PR, Freddygeezstudio in Rochester, NY, and EDR Studios in Groveland, FL, joined by the music and started my long-awaited project. We started to decide which topics we would include: seises, aguinaldos, trullas… The recordings began in three different studios, “UNITED BY THE MUSIC”. Everything was ready with plans to go on the market in October 2017 and Hurricane María hit PR. It was necessary to postpone the release of the CD.

Originally the CD included eight songs. During the wait and hearing about the suffering of our Puerto Rican brothers, we were inspired by the last song which became the number one on the CD “Puerto Rico Rise Up” (Puerto Rico se Levanta in Spanish). Now the CD contains nine songs with five styles of six, three aguinaldos and a trulla. Each one with an original message of nostalgia for the country, a love story, a biblical message, a cultural controversy, a tribute to Don Pedro Núñez, among others. By obtaining this CD, you will join us, through music, to promote our cultural heritage and although far from the Puerto Rican soil, we will always carry it proudly in our hearts.

The Perils of Smoking

by Adrián Martínez

Many of you have heard through school, the news, or your medical providers that smoking has the potential to cause or worsen many diseases, ranging from heart and lung disease to various forms of cancer. In fact, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data indicate that smoking can significantly increase risk of developing heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes, which are among the leading causes of death for Latino people (1). With this in mind, it is understandable why healthcare providers are encouraging their patients to quit smoking. Unfortunately, the Latino population has lower access to health insurance than white Americans, which means they have less access to healthcare providers and the treatments that may be offered to help quit smoking.

According to surveys from the United States Census Bureau, smoking rates vary among the Latino subpopulations. About one in five Puerto Ricans and Cubans admit to cigarette smoking, which is about twice the rate of Central and South Americans; among all groups, men are more likely to smoke daily than women (2). This can reflect more social acceptance of smoking in those groups with higher rates, which in itself can result in more difficulty for people in those groups to quit. Part of the process of quitting involves avoiding environments in which you might be more likely to smoke a cigarette. If you are surrounded by people who smoke, it is much harder to avoid the temptation of smoking. Surround yourself with people who can support you in your efforts to quit, and encourage your loved ones to quit alongside you.

What methods are there to quit smoking? Besides attempting to do so on your own, you have a few options from which to choose. Nicotine replacement therapy includes nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal sprays. Other treatments include the medicines varenicline and bupropion, both of which reduce cravings for nicotine and have other helpful effects. All these medications come with their own side effects, which you should discuss with your healthcare provider. Do not be discouraged if you are unable to quit using one of the medications; quitting is a process that requires effort and persistence. If you are interested in quitting, make an appointment with your primary care provider or call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) for guidance and support.

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital Signs: Leading Causes of Death, Prevalence of Diseases and Risk Factors, and Use of Health Services Among Hispanics in the United States—2009–2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2015;64(17):469–78.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disparities in Adult Cigarette Smoking—United States, 2002-2005 and 2010-2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2016;65(30).

Adrian Martinez is a Puerto Rican born in California and raised in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Florida. He graduated in 2014 from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Biology and is currently a fourth-year medical student attending the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He is on the executive board of the school’s chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) and will be pursuing a career in psychiatry.