Deportation From the U.S.— Are You at Risk?
The unfortunate truth is this: unless you are a naturalized citizen, the possibility of deportation from the U.S. will always be there. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the U.S., nor whether you already have a green card.
If you’re reading this, chances are you or a loved one may be concerned about deportation or already facing removal proceedings. If this is the case, your first step should be to speak with an experienced immigration attorney who can evaluate your situation, inform you of your rights and options, and help you decide which course of action is best.
This article addresses fundamental information useful for anyone who is an immigrant or green card holder in the U.S., and who might face deportation.
Reasons for Deportation
Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) lists several reasons for deportation of an immigrant from the U.S., including but not limited to the following:
- Commission of a crime, including drug offenses
- Staying in the U.S. despite visa expiration
- Document or marriage fraud
- Failure to report change of address within 10 days of relocating
- Unlawful entry into the U.S.
- Failure to obey the terms of a visa
- Becoming a “public charge” via the acceptance of public assistance
- Claiming to be a U.S. citizen
How to Find Out Whether You’re Getting Deported
It is not uncommon for immigrants in the U.S. to be unaware that a deportation order has been issued against them. However, there are ways to find out.
If you’ve received immigration court papers, you can quickly determine what’s going on by following these steps:
- Call 1 (800) 898-7180.
- Once prompted by the automated message, enter your Alien Registration Number.
- You will be given directions on how to find out whether there is a deportation order or pending charges against you, and where your case is being held.
If you have not received immigration court papers, your safest bet is to contact an immigration attorney who can look into your situation and determine whether a deportation or any other charges have been taken out against you.
Certain noncitizens may be deported through an expedited removal procedure. This procedure allows for the deportation of immigrants without due process, meaning without the right to a hearing. The deportation can occur within a single day, and the process can be initiated by even low-ranking immigration officers. The individual who has been subject to expedited removal will have no time to contact an attorney, provide evidence to support their claim, or appeal the decision.
The commission of certain crimes may result in expedited removal, including having been found inadmissible to the U.S. upon entry, unlawful entry into the U.S., and fraud and/or misrepresentation.
Removal Proceedings: What Rights Do You Have?
Unlike expedited removal, the standard removal process affords noncitizens a number of rights, including the right to a court hearing before a judge, an immigration attorney, and an interpreter. However, it is important to know that immigrant defendants are not entitled to have an attorney appointed to them if they cannot afford their own. In other words, the immigrant will need to pay for their own attorney and will not be offered representation by a public defender free of charge.
Removal Proceedings: What to Expect
If you have been served with a Notice to Appear, then you can expect to attend a court hearing before a judge. The first hearing date is referred to as the “master calendar hearing”; failure to attend this hearing would result in deportation.
During this hearing, you would have the option to assert your defenses to the allegations against you. If the judge determines that a merits hearing should be held, then each side will exchange information and evidence that supports their own argument. At this hearing, the government would be given the opportunity to try to prove the allegations against you. If the government succeeds in doing so, you could apply for relief from removal.
Ultimately, the judge will determine whether the deportation process will proceed, or relief from removal will be granted. The judge’s decision can be appealed by either side within 30 days.
Can Deportation Be Avoided Once Proceedings Have Begun?
Removal proceedings may be terminated under certain conditions, depending on whether the individual is a permanent or temporary resident.
In order to qualify for a cancellation of removal/adjustment of status, permanent residents must show the following:
- They have been a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. for at least five years
- They have lived in the U.S. for seven years or more
- No history of conviction of aggravated felony
In order to qualify for a cancellation of removal/adjustment of status, temporary residents must show the following:
- They have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years
- No history of conviction of a deportable offense
- Their removal from the U.S. would result in extreme hardship to their family members
Additional Avenue for Stopping Deportation
Political asylum: If you are already in deportation proceedings, then you will need to file an application for asylum directly with the immigration judge overseeing your case.
Your asylum application will include an explanation as to why you do not want to return to your home country, such as for fear of persecution on the basis of your race, religion, nationality, political option, or participation in a certain social group.
Filing for asylum can be a complex and technical process, and is best done with the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney.
Why Hiring an Immigration Attorney is Critical
All too often, those facing deportation proceedings assume one of two things:
- They will be able to convince the judge to let them stay if they tell their side of the story.
- Trying to stay in the U.S. is hopeless, because no matter what they say, they will end up being deported anyway.
While these assumptions make sense, they are only misconceptions—misconceptions that often stop people from obtaining the legal representation they need in order to have their case properly represented and their rights properly protected.
Don’t be one of those people. A seasoned immigration attorney can help you in so many ways, such as by:
- Helping you get a custody hearing (assuming you are already in detention)
- Helping you get released from immigration detention
- Appearing in court on your behalf
- Fighting for relief from deportation
- Arguing that the allegations against you are false
- Showing evidence that you should qualify for asylum
- Helping you fill out an application for cancellation of removal
Immigration and Deportation Attorneys in Edinburg, Texas
At R. Ramirez Attorneys and Counselors, you’ll find highly experienced, compassionate attorneys who are eager to take on your immigration matter. Immigration law is complicated and often very difficult to navigate without the expertise of an attorney who knows it inside and out.
Ready to protect your rights?
Call for a detailed case evaluation: (956) 766-4000