Deportation is the legal process of removing a non-citizen from the United States.
It often happens either because a person is in the country illegally—without
the necessary documentation—or because the individual has violated
the terms of his or her lawful status, such as by overstaying a visa or
committing a criminal offense.
The removal process is complex, and the stakes are high. Legal representation
from an experienced immigration attorney is critical to build an effective
defense strategy, protect your rights, and present the best case possible
in immigration course.
The following is an overview of the deportation process in U.S. immigration court.
The Start of the Removal Hearings
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is in charge of commencing a
removal proceeding, typically through its Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Division—known as ICE. Whether they are tipped off by phone or conduct
a raid, there are various ways in which a non-citizen may come in contact
with immigration authorities.
DHS must serve the illegal alien with a Notice to Appear (NTA) before an
immigration judge, informing him or her of the following:
- The nature of the proceedings
- The alleged grounds for deportation
- The individual’s right to hire a lawyer
- The consequences of failing to appear at scheduled hearings
Removal hearings are held before an immigration judge (IJ) under the umbrella
of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The judge will
determine whether the alien’s actions or lack of immigration status
make him or her deportable from the U.S., or whether he or she merits
any legal or discretionary relief.
Master Calendar Hearing
The first hearing is called a master calendar hearing. Even if you do not
have a lawyer and do not know whether you have any defense to removal,
it is imperative to attend this initial meeting.
If you fail to attend this or any hearing, you will receive an automatic
order of removal against you. This order prohibits you from returning
to the U.S., with any sort of visa, for ten years.
On the other hand, if you appear in court despite having no defense to
removal, you may be eligible to negotiate a “Voluntary Removal”
(VR). This is considered an admission to having no legal right to stay
in the country and an agreement to leave on your own power.
However, if you have some legal basis which to remain in the United States,
you do not want to accept VR. Even after having been placed into deportation
proceedings, you may still be able to qualify for a green card based on
such grounds as marriage or another close family relationship to a U.S.
citizen, cancellation of removal, asylum, or showing the DHS made a mistake
about your removal.
The Merits Hearing(s)
If you and your attorney have a case to defend you against deportation,
you must attend the merits hearing. You will be required to testify on
your own behalf, with your lawyer asking the questions. You will also
be examined by a lawyer for DHS. You can use the aid of witnesses, pieces
of evidence, or experts in the field.
If you are facing deportation in Ventura County, CA,
Santa Barbara immigration lawyers at
Appel & Morse today for a
free case evaluation.