United States citizens are the only people who can live in this country without the possibility of deportation. A person who is not a citizen of the United States who is convicted of a crime can face permanent removal from the country. There are only three ways that a person might be given citizenship. Those are by:
- Being born in the United States
- Birth in another country with a parent who is a United States citizen
- Naturalization of a lawful permanent resident
Lawful permanent residents can live and work in the United States for a lifetime, but they can be subject to removal proceedings if they are convicted of a serious crime. If removal is ordered, a person can be stripped of his or her right to return to the United States forever.
Due process of law requires an evidentiary hearing if the United States seeks to deport a foreign national. He or she is first served with a Notice to Appear that contains certain allegations that might include any criminal convictions in the United States. If the Notice to Appear contains a date certain for the respondent to appear at a specific immigration court, and he or she fails to appear, a removal hearing can be held in absentia, and an order of removal can be entered.
The respondent’s right to an attorney
Any person subject to a Notice to Appear has the right to retain an attorney for representation in an immigration proceeding. Since removal proceedings aren’t criminal in nature, no right exists for a respondent to be represented by a public defender. In the context of foreign nationals who legally entered the United States, the burden of proof is on the United States to prove that the foreign national is subject to removal.
Relief from deportation
Federal law recognizes several different forms of relief from deportation. They can include but aren’t limited to:
- An exceptional and extremely unusual hardship on family members
- The Violence Against Women Act for battered foreign national spouses and children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents
- Asylum for victims of persecution in their home countries
- Withholding of removal for refugees
- Deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA)
Both the respondent and the United States can appeal an immigration judge’s removal decision, but strict time limits apply. Failure to timely file an appeal within 30 days of the date of a removal decision can forever bar the appellant from proceeding further. If removal was ordered, the timely filing of an appeal operates to automatically stay the removal order.
Why you need an immigration lawyer
Most people who try to represent themselves in deportation proceedings struggle with the rules of the process. They don’t know how to have evidence on their own behalf admitted in a hearing, nor are they familiar with the defenses that might be available to them. Even if the respondent is familiar with those defenses, he or she likely has no idea of how to properly present them. Even if the immigration judge rules against the respondent, he or she still has the right to an appeal, but the appellate process is highly technical, and only a highly experienced immigration lawyer is qualified to navigate respondents through it.
Current estimates are that about 400,000 deportation proceedings will be filed annually. Due to immigration status, a respondent might have to face both criminal charges and deportation proceedings. The possible consequences can be harsh in both courts, so knowledgeable and experienced legal representation is required. We understand how important possible deportation is to you and your family, so we want to protect your immigration status.
If you or a family member has been arrested for a serious crime, and you’re concerned with the possible immigration consequences, contact us right away at 888-997-2152 for a free consultation and case evaluation at any one of our three offices. Don’t be intimidated by either the criminal or immigration courts. Defenses are available.