Deportation, also referred to as removal, tears families apart and shatters dreams. It is a disruptive force in the lives of all who come in contact with it, whether by means of a close family member or a friend who is facing this dreaded situation. The laws bearing on deportation are exceptionally complex and hard to manage, putting most persons facing deportation at a considerable disadvantage compared to the well-resourced government prosecutors whose aim is to remove them from the United States. Pitfalls abound at every step for those without legal acumen and experience solving tough legal problems.
But there's hope. The attorneys at Heartland Immigration can guide you through this difficult process, protecting and asserting your rights in immigration court. Our deportation attorneys will analyze your case and develop a strategy that is consistent with your long-term goals. We know when it's likely in a person's best interest to concede removability and accept voluntary departure, so as to avoid being barred from even visiting the U.S. for 10 years when the chances of winning the case are low, but we also know that sometimes nothing less than an all-out battle in court is what's best for the client. The deportation lawyers at Heartland Immigration will fight for your rights. While the bulk of our deportation work is done in Dallas and Irvine (Los Angeles), we can assist you anywhere in the U.S.
Who can be deported?
Non-U.S. citizens who are in the U.S. without documentation are not the only people whom the U.S. government deports. Many people who are here legally, including green card holders (legal permanent residents), become subject to deportation proceedings. Indeed, it is not uncommon to see someone who has spent many decades legally in the U.S. be deported. The same goes for children, some of whom were brought to the United States as infants and do not speak the language or know the culture of the country to which they are deported.
Actions that can make a person eligible for deportation are many. Generally, a person can be deported if they:
- Were inadmissible under according to immigration laws in effect at the time of entry to the U.S. or adjustment of status;
- Are present in the U.S. in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act or any other U.S. law;
- Violated their non-immigrant status or a condition of entry into the U.S.;
- Terminated their conditional permanent resident status;
- Encouraged or aided any other alien to enter the U.S. illegally;
- Engaged in marriage fraud to gain admission to the U.S.;
- Were convicted of certain criminal offenses;
- Committed fraud in attempting to enter the U.S.;
- Engaged in any activity that endangers public safety or creates a risk of national security; or
- Unlawfully voted
Being out of status, such as by overstaying a nonimmigrant visa (such as a tourist or student visa, for example), and committing certain criminal acts (sometimes very minor ones) are two of the more common reasons persons are subjected to deportation from the United States.
How does the deportation process work?
When the government believes a person is deportable and wants to remove them it will issue what is called a Notice to Appear (NTA), Form I-862. The NTA will be served on the person (usually by mail) and filed with the immigration court having jurisdiction over the area where the person lives. The NTA informs that the person must appear at a hearing called a master calendar hearing, which will take place not less than 10 days after the day the NTA is served.
Master calendar hearings are held for pleadings, scheduling, and other similar matters. You can have an attorney with you at this hearing. If you do not, the judge will ask you if you would like to get one before moving forward with your case. The immigration judge will ask the person, referred to as the "respondent" in immigration parlance, whether what is stated in the NTA – basically a recitation of why the person is removable – is correct. If the immigration judge determines that the information in the NTA is factual, and that the alien can be deported, the alien is given the opportunity to apply for any form of relief from deportation for which she/he might be eligible. If the alien is not eligible, an order for deportation will occur.
If the respondent is eligible and applies for a form of relief, or if the respondent disputes the facts stated in the NTA or claims she/he is not deportable under the law, an additional hearing date is scheduled. This hearing is called the Merits Hearing, and is usually a several hour block of time in which the person's case is tried before the immigration judge. The person will be given the opportunity to give testimony and have witnesses testify on his or her behalf. The immigration judge will make a determination at the conclusion of the hearing, which he/she will voice at the end of the hearing. A person who receives an order of deportation has 30 days from the date of the decision to appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). If the BIA decides against the person, they have the option of appealing to the appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals.
What are some defenses to deportation?
Sometimes the immigration authorities mistakenly apply the law to a person's situation, allowing the person to successfully argue that they simply are not deportable. Additionally, even when a person is eligible for deportation according to U.S. immigration law, they can sometimes avoid by employing one of several tactics or defenses. Some of the more common ones are listed below. Click on the links for more information:
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