ICE has undertaken the practice of detaining individuals at state courthouses when they appear for matters unrelated to their immigration case. The explanation given by the agency is that communities that do not place “immigration holds” on immigrants have “forced their hand” towards this practice. This is utter nonsense. ICE has a significant number of tools with which to locate and apprehend aliens who they consider high priority such as gang members or people with previous deportations orders. One, they can simply look them up and detain them at their homes or other locations. In today’s day and age, its almost impossible for someone not to leave a digital trail that will allow law enforcement to find them. Two, if an individual is on probation for a serious offense and is on probation, ICE can detain him or her at the probation officer’s appointments. Three, ICE may and does detain a significant number of individuals with criminal backgrounds while they are traveling in and out of the Unite States. Just from these examples it is clear that ICE has other options beyond going to courthouses to pick up aliens. The real reason is obvious, as with denaturalization cases and other actions, to send a chill through the immigrant community in order to have them “self deport” and/or creating legal hurdles to being in the U.S. Not OK as the person ultimately in charge of these policies has said. If not look at the opinion of 77 ex-judges on this matter.
First and foremost, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Alaska takes a very pragmatic and serious approach to the enforcement of immigration laws. Rare are the cases of individuals who have not crossed paths with the law who find themselves in the sights of ICE in this state. In other words, if you do not have a previous deportation order and/or have not committed a criminal offense that makes you deportable the chances of immigration “picking you up” are lower. That does not mean that individuals who are in the United States without permission or out of status have a free for all. Do not confuse a priority system based upon ICE’s resources with the idea that it is OK to violate immigration laws. So, if you are out there as an immigrant (including residents or naturalized citizens – yes Uncle Sam can take your naturalization away under certain circumstances) with a criminal background or have a previous order of removal – even if you have TPS or are checking in with ICE- call an immigration attorney experienced with these type of cases ASAP.
We are immigration Attorneys practicing in Anchorage, Alaska. With more than 15 years of experience, we provide our clients with outstanding legal counsel and representation in all areas of immigration law. Please contact us below to discuss how we can help you.
• 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.
Is a legal figure used to protect people who are afraid to return to their country because they have been persecuted or believe they will be persecuted in the future. Asylum is one of the most important and valuable figures that the United States has to offer. Asylum is the request a person, who has left their country and is in the United States, makes to the government for protection because they have been or will be persecuted in their country of origin or residence because of their political opinion (or perceived political opinion), their religion, their gender, their national origin or because they belong to a particular social group. Please note that persecution for asylum purposes is something serious that goes significantly beyond harassment. To see if your case is one where filing an asylum is possible talk to an experienced attorney.
Just as asylum is an important figure IT IS ALSO ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT IMMIGRATION BENEFITS TO OBTAIN. For this reason, before you file for asylum in the United States make sure to talk to an immigration lawyer that has handled asylum cases both before Immigration and the Immigration Courts. IMPORTANT: IF YOU FILE FOR ASYLUM AND YOU ARE NOT IN STATUS (YOUR STAY IN THE U.S. HAS EXPIRED) YOU WILL BE PLACED IN REMOVAL PROCEEDINGS AND YOU WILL HAVE TO PRESENT YOUR CASE BEFORE AN IMMIGRATION JUDGE.
TYPES OF ASYLUM
Asylum cases can be divided into proactive or defensive cases. Proactive cases are those that are filed by a person directly with USCIS (Immigration). These cases do not involve deportation and present USCIS with the persons case. When filing a case THIS IS THE TIME YOU NEED TO BEST PRESENT YOUR CASE. This means that you should review what you are presenting carefully and make sure that it a legally viable case – not something made up and facts under which an asylum would be granted. Just because you are afraid to go back for any reason or you passed a credible fear interview it does not mean you will get asylum.
Defensive asylum cases are those that are presented by a person who is being deported from the United States in order to avoid being sent back to their country. These cases are presented before the immigration judge and follow the same rules as those presented with USCIS. The difference here is that your case will be heard by a Judge and a Trial Attorney representing ICE. In other words, it will be different than a defensive case application that is only heard by an asylum officer. Remember to always use lawyers who can represent you in court. Notarios, “friends,” or paralegals cannot appear before a Court and may not represent you in your case. This is a BIG problem.
Finally, remember that all asylum cases must be filed within one year of a person’s entry to the United States. If you want to file beyond that period you must demonstrate that filing was almost impossible for you during the period between your arrival and the filing of your case. Remember that you should always consult with a lawyer when dealing with an asylum case.
So what happens if you are getting deported? Here is a short guide.
THE NOTICE TO APPEAR – NTA (DEPORTATION)
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) updated with your dress. 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.
WHO IS IN THE COURT – THE PLAYERS IN DEPORTATION
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. Address them properly as Judge or Your Honor.
2) The Trial Attorney (ICE). The Trial Attorneys belong to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of the Chief Counsel. Their job is to “prosecute” your case so it is important that you have proper counsel to assist you in this process.
3) The Clerk. The Clerk belongs to the EOIR and is there to assist the Judge with general information and support.
4) The Interpreter. Depending on your native language the Court will provide an interpreter at no cost to you.
THE DEPORTATION 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 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 elegible for a waiver, etc..)
2) The Individual Hearing. At this hearing you will present your case to the Court. It may take several hours so be ready and prepared with your attorney.
THE DECISION AND APPEALS OF A DEPORTATION CASE
Hopefully your decision is favorable and the Judge found in your favor. If the decision is negative you have 30 days to present an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals in Virginia. Your appeal has to physically be there on the 30th day or it will be late. BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THIS POINT. Instead of appealing you may file a motion to reconsider within 30 days or a motion to reopen within 90 days. The decision as to which path to take should be made with your attorney as your rights will be affected by it.
CLEARLY THIS GUIDE IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR AN ATTORNEY. BE JUDICIOUS IN CHOOSING ONE AND MAKE SURE HE OR SHE HAS AMPLE EXPERIENCE IN HANDLING REMOVAL CASES. NOT ALL LAWYERS ARE THE SAME AND NOT ALL IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS GO TO COURT.
Immigration, Technology and Enforcement: It is a Brave New World
It is clear that immigration has increased its enforcement efforts in the Trump administration. None the less the Obama and W. Bush administrations also had a significant increment in the cases of removal or deportation from the United States. In the Obama administration the number of aliens that were deported was higher than ever before. In the W. Bush era the creation and activation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 led to a natural increase in removal cases. The common thread in all of the above is not a negative animus against immigrants, that could be said about the current administration, but not of the previous. The one thing that is a powerful, yet silent, cause behind the rise of enforcement action by immigration agencies is an exponential increment in the use of technology for the processing of cases. Just to understand what is happening, let’s look at the change of case processing over time in regards to fingerprints. In the past individuals were fingerprinted in carboard cards that were sent to the FBI and physically compared to one another without the certainty of inclusion in any type of database. Now fingerprints are collected electronically and immediately available for use and comparison by immigration. So, what does this mean for the average immigrant, including those individuals who already became citizens of the United States?
Using “preparers,” “notaries,” or “friends” in your dealings with immigration is, more than ever, not an option. Errors, misstatement and outright fraud, that usually take place with these individuals are things that WILL be seen and found. They are no longer things of the past – we are not dealing with paper files. We are in the world of electronic files where all information, biometric and biographical, is shared and corroborated. An omission or a misstatement by someone, like a “notario,” who does not have the preparation or credentials of a lawyer, can be deadly to an immigration case.
Crimes, convictions, marriages and deportations are no longer “forgotten.” If any of these things have happened in a case, they are not going to simply “disappear with time,” as some people think. Now, more than ever issues with such things are easily discovered and MUST, as has always been the case, be disclosed in your immigration proceedings. Not doing so may result in your deportation twenty years from now! For example, read about operation Janus where individuals who were not properly naturalized, be it for lying or fraud in their immigration process, are now being denaturalized. Also, if you are an immigrant who has an arrest or conviction and who has not yet naturalized, you are also exposing yourself to detention and deportation when traveling out and back to the United States. Simply put, your biographical history is now in the internet and ignoring it is not a solution.
The bottom line is this. We ARE living in the age of Big Brother and the U.S. government has the technology and the will to use it to enforce immigration laws. Remember, Facebook, Instagram, Etc.… collect and share information with third party databases who in turn provide information services for the Government. Your life is out there in the internet and immigration can get it. So, if you have issues with your immigration past, are having them now with immigration or the law, or think that you may have them in the future, consult or hire a competent immigration attorney who has dealt with cases like yours in the past.
It is hard to believe that the question “how will Immigration find out?” is still being asked by clients and relied upon by some lawyers. Not only is this line of thinking one that may jeopardize an attorney’s license, it is an almost assured way of ruining a case. In ANY immigration proceeding, be it your first or last, credibility is an essential part. Why? Because not only may your credibility support the case, in some instances it is the reason why you win it. For example, an asylum case may be granted solely upon credible testimony. (Asylum Credibility) At the same time, the moment credibility is lost with an adjudicator or opposing party, it is very likely that the case will follow the same path – no matter if it is USCIS, an Asylum Officer, or an Immigration Judge. So, advice.
First. Always disclose arrests, marriages, changes of address, travel to and from the U.S., etc… If for some reason your attorney tells you that such act or situation may be an issue: DEAL WITH IT up front. Trying to hide it or not disclosing it to a department of state consul, an immigration officer or a customs and border protection agent will eventually surface, destroy your credibility and create a disqualifier in the form of fraud. (Immigration Fraud Info) Further, remember that most things have waivers – few don’t, like a false claim to us citizenship (but even that may be salvageable!) – and it is better to disclose and request a waiver than to fail to disclose and, not only get your case on the path to assured denial, ending up with a fraud charge for which you may need a second waiver.
Second. Tell your immigration attorney and keep a record of what you said. Lawyers are human, they make mistakes, forget things, and cannot read minds. So, do not assume that your lawyer knows something in your case if you have not expressly told him or her about it. If you think something should be in everyone’s record tell your lawyer and let him or her guide you on that issue. Take it as a serious warning if your attorney even hints at not disclosing a fact or issue with your case. (This is not to be confused with what the government must prove in its burden in certain cases, but this is a very fine line which you must walk with care).
Finally, keep in mind the information that you have in the internet. It is public information in many cases. Google, Facebook, Instagram and other applications and social media services provide a summary of the information they have collected on you. (Ger your information) You may want to retrieve this information to have a record.
So, when dealing with immigration start from the idea that all negative information about you is in their hands. This leads to better preparation of cases and better results for you as you will not have to worry many years later if your citizenship may be revoked be cause of an undisclosed fact in your immigration history. (Denaturalization Cases) So talk your attorney or if you do not have one, get one. Good luck. For more information go to our main page.
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