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Deportation Proceedings 101

Deportation is the process the United States uses to send non United States Citizens back to their home country. There are a number of ways in which an individual in the United States can be placed in removal proceedings.

This includes but is not limited to:

  1. Being present in the United States without the right to be here;
  2. Being convicted of an act that renders them deportable or the violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act;
  3. The denial of a petition the individual has filed with the service.

How This Works:

If you are present in the United States without authority and you are arrested or come into contact with law enforcement – and law enforcement is unable to verify your lawful status, then you will be placed in removal proceedings.

If you are convicted of a deportable offense such as rape, murder or kidnapping, then you will be placed in removal proceedings.

If you have violated the Immigration and Nationality Act, such as engaging in a fraudulent marriage, then you can be placed in removal proceedings.

If you file a petition with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services and that petition is denied, then you can be placed in removal proceedings.

man holding suitcase walking down a paved road

What does it look LIKE?

Being placed in removal proceedings does not mean you have to immediately depart the United States. Two things:

  • First, make sure you retain competent counsel, and

So what does it look like? You have received the dreaded NTA. Known more formally as the Notice to Appear, this is the document that will tell you the WHERE, the WHEN, and the WHY.

The Where: This is where you need to show up. The address of the Immigration Court that will be handling your case.

The When: The date that you must show up.

The Why: These are the allegations the United States government is bringing against you. In other words, this is what you did wrong. For example: you are a citizen of Honduras, you are not a citizen of the United States, you have violated the terms of your visa by failing to depart the United States when you were supposed to. These are facts the government knows about you.

How Long is the Entire PROCESS?

Your first hearing will be your master calendar hearing – similar to the arraignment in the criminal setting. This is where you will have the opportunity to do two things, (1) tell the Judge whether the allegations are true or not, and, (2) advise the judge of your defense and also to state your relief.

After the master calendar hearing, the immigration judge will then schedule you for your final hearing. This is your individual hearing – similar to the trial in the civil or criminal setting.

This can be years away from your first hearing.

You will have the opportunity to collect and submit evidence to the court to be used in your defense. Keep in mind, “it wasn’t” is not a valid defense.

The entire process can take years – depending on rescheduling, motions, change in circumstances etc.

Did you know?

  1. Did you know, you have a better chance of being successful in Immigration Court if you are represented by counsel?
  2. Did you know you can be placed in removal proceedings by failing to file a change of address with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, within 10 days of moving?
  3. Did you know that you do not have the right to an attorney while you are in removal proceedings?

The deportation process is lengthy as it is stressful. To prevent family separation, I recommend retaining competent counsel.


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