Deportation / Removal
Deportation Defense (The fast and simple, look below for more details)
Deportation (or removal as it is called officially) is when a person is forced to leave or not allowed to enter the United States. This process usually takes place before an immigration judge, but sometimes it can be “expedited” and is carried out by an “immigration” officer. Deportation/Removal can be carried out while you are in ICE custody (detained) or not. For more information on removal during detention see our page on Bonds and Detention. If you or someone you know is being “deported,” take a look at the information below and CALL US to discuss your case as soon as possible.
Deportation Defense(The detailed version):
(You will find a similar guide prepared by our partner Nicolas A. Olano for AVVO here: https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/what-do-i-do-if-you-are-placed-in-removal-proceedings-deportation)
Removal proceedings start with the service of a document called the Notice to Appear or NTA for short. Here is how it plays out:
1. Service of the Notice – Keeping your address updated: The notice is served by mail or personally. Because mailing is enough you should ALWAYS keep Immigration (CIS, ICE and EOIR) updated with your address. The NTA may also be served personally by an Immigration Officer.
2. Contents of the Notice – Allegations and Charges. The NTA will specify what actions sustain the removal charge or charges. It will always state that you are not as US Citizen and where you are a citizen or national of. The NTA will also specify the transgressions against Immigration law that you are being accused of. Be familiar with this document it is what tells an immigration lawyer or government officer what is going on with your immigration case. If you make an appointment for a consult because you are in removal proceedings, please bring the NTA with you.
The Immigration Court has various people working there, here is who they are:
1. The Judge (EOIR). The Judge is part of the Department of Justice so they do not really belong to “Immigration.” They are Judges and have your life in their hands so pay attention to what they say and do. If you do not have a lawyer an IJ will five you an opportunity to get one. Use this time to get proper counsel. (Use this list to find an immigration lawyer). Also, if you have questions ASK the IJ if you are unrepresented or you attorney if you have one. Finally, the Judge holds your life in his or her hands, address them properly as “Judge” or “Your Honor” and do what they tell you – they have an obligation to do what is in your best interest.
2. The Trial Attorney (ICE). The Trial Attorneys (TA’s) belong to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of the Chief Counsel. (OPLA-ICE). Their job is to “prosecute” your case so it is important that you have proper counsel to assist you in this process. Remember these are trained lawyers who know immigration law and who are charged to prove the case against you. This means they will present evidence (Documents, testimony, pictures, records) to show why you should be deported or removed from the United States. Having counsel who is familiar with the removal process will help you in dealing with the government while in removal proceedings.
3. The Clerk. The Clerk belongs to the EOIR and is there to assist the Judge with general information and support. If you do not have an attorney this is the person who will receive your information and generally indicate what is happening. For example, they will call you case or give you documents from the IJ. You can ask the Clerk general questions pertaining to your case.
4. The Interpreter. Depending on your native language the Court will provide an interpreter at no cost to you. This person is the means by which you are going to communicate with the Court. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you understand what she or he is telling you. If you do not understand the interpreter ALWAYS tell your attorney or if you do not have, tell the IJ.
5. NOTE: Always be polite and well presented in Immigration Court. Your appearance says a lot about you and EVERYONE will take account. In my opinion a well presented, polite respondent will always have a better chance to win their case. (If you are unsure on how to dress for Court imagine you are going to a formal occasion like church, temple or a job interview).
The Immigration Court Hearings:
1. The Master Hearing. This is your first hearing. Generally, the Court will allow you to postpone this hearing, get a continuance, in order to acquire legal counsel. This will generally be done only one time. At this hearing you or preferably your attorney will address the charges in the NTA and will also ask for relief (What is going to keep you from being deported. i.e. you are already a resident, the crime immigration says you were convicted of is not a removable offense, you are eligible for a waiver, etc.) There will be other people in the Court who have their case at the same time as yours so you may be in there for a while. Remember you can ask for an Attorney, at no cost for the government – you pay it -, to represent you. NEVER address the charges in the NTA without an attorney representing you in COURT. Depending on your case you may have one or many master hearings.
2. The Individual Hearing. At this hearing you will present your case to the Court. That is where you get to tell your story, so to speak. Your attorney will present your case at this hearing so everything has to be filed with the Court. You lawyer will ask you and any witnesses questions and present document and argument in your favor. The government may attack your case or not oppose it at this point. It is better if your attorney has contacted the government’s attorney, the Trial Attorney (TA) beforehand to resolve any issues before the hearing. Finally, the hearing may take several hours and the Judge will give a decision at the end or reserve it, meaning he will give it at a later time. If your case is denied you have the right to appeal. See our page on Immigration Court Appeals hereBIA.