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A person facing removal, often called deportation, faces being sent back to his or her home country where he or she may have few ties and few resources. Once removed, it is extremely difficult for a person to legally return to the United States or seek any other form of immigration relief.
Depending on when an in individual leaves the United States, he or she may be prevented for a period of 5, 10 or even 20 years from returning to the United States. In the most serious situations, an individual may be permanently barred from ever returning or seeking a visa of any sort.
What stops a person who was removed from returning? If a person is found in the United States after being removed, he or she could face federal criminal charges which carry a term of imprisonment of up to two years. If a person was removed due to an aggravated felony, he or she could face up to twenty years in prison.
If you or a loved one faces removal, contact an experienced immigration attorney immediately. Every person being removed has a right to obtain an attorney, who will fight for the best possible relief during removal proceedings. At the Skinner Law Firm, we fight for fairness, equity and family reunification during removal proceedings. Call us today at (610) 436-1410 to set up a consultation at our office in West Chester in Chester County, PA.
We serve clients throughout Philadelphia and the suburban areas including Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Lancaster and York counties. We also represent clients throughout the tristate area before the Immigration Courts in Philadelphia, York and beyond.
In order to remove a person, the government must have grounds or a specific legal reason. These grounds may come to the attention of any agency within the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) in a number of ways. Many reasons include failure to maintain lawful status, criminal convictions, refusal at a port of entry or workplace raids.
Grounds for removal are laid out in 8 U.S.C. § 1227. They include allegations that the person facing removal committed at least one of the following:
The above list is not inclusive. More specifically the criminal grounds for removal include not only individuals who are convicted but any individual who, at the time of his or her admission to the United States, had admitted to committing the crime or elements of the crime. This means that an individual does not need to have an actual conviction, but only admit to having committed the offense. Thus, when facing removal proceedings, it is very important to obtain an immigration attorney to ensure that you properly address the specific grounds for removal.
If DHS is attempting to remove a person, that person will receive a Notice to Appear. The Notice will have the date and time to appear in Immigration Court. Additionally, the Notice to Appear will state the grounds for removal. Immigration Courts are administered by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) and are utilized especially for removal cases. There are two Immigration Courts in Pennsylvania:
Philadelphia Immigration Court
Robert Nix Federal Building and Courthouse
900 Market Street, Suite 504
Philadelphia, PA 19107
York Immigration Court
3400 Concord Road, Suite 2
York, PA 17402
There are two hearings after being placed in removal proceedings. The first hearing is the Master Calendar Hearing, which is the date indicated on the Notice to Appear. On this date, an Immigration Judge will review the contents of the Notice to Appear, correct any mistakes, and an individual will be required to admit or deny the charges against him or her.
At this point, an individual will also request one or more forms of relief from removal, and the judge will set deadlines for applications and the next hearing dates.
The second hearing is usually the Individual Merits Hearing. Based upon the form of relief(s) previously requested, there will be an opportunity for the individual to speak on his or her own behalf, present evidence and witnesses, question and cross-examine witnesses, and provide experts.
A judge may then grant or deny the individual’s requested relief from removal. If the person does not appear, the judge will issue an automatic order for removal. Being removed in absentia carries serious immigration consequences.
Due to the complexities, rules and requirements for certain types of relief from removal, it is important to retain the qualified services of an immigration attorney. We understand the implications and consequences involved with the removal process.At Skinner Law Firm, we will advise you on the best relief for your individual situation, prepare you for your individual hearing, and strive for the best possible outcome during your removal proceeding.
Some individuals are not simply given a Notice to Appear and expected to show up to court. Some individuals, instead, are placed in detention. Detention facilities are essentially prison-like long term waiting cells. In some cases, an entire family may be placed in a detention facility.
If a loved one is in an immigration detention facility, he or she may be eligible for an immigration bond. There are few exceptions under immigration law in which an individual may not be granted bond. However, if granted, an individual will be required to post monetary collateral.
This works similar to posting bail in a criminal case – a certain amount of money is handed over to secure the detainee’s release. A person released must show up to all future court dates, or risk forfeiture of money and being removed in absentia.
You should obtain an attorney if you or a loved one’s freedom from detention involves successfully securing a bond.
There are many defenses available in a removal proceeding, including:
If none of these defenses are applicable, voluntary departure may be the best option. A person granted voluntary departure will not have a removal order entered against him or her, and thus will not be subject to the 5, 10, or 20-year bar. He or she may, however, still be subject to 3 or 10-year bars based upon unlawful status.
Voluntary departure is sometimes the best option because an Immigration Judge may grant up to four months for the individual to leave the United States and return to his or her home country. The person may then seek to return without the hurdle of a removal order.
It is important to note that a person requesting voluntary departure should request it prior to any court dates. Requesting voluntary departure before, during or after a removal hearing may prevent a person from successfully obtaining this form of relief. Be sure to seek the advice of an attorney prior to any hearing date.
At the Skinner Law Firm, we will carefully review your circumstances and determine the best possible removal defense or defenses available to you. Our goal is to ensure you or your loved ones remain in the United States, the place you now call home. Our experienced immigration attorneys represent clients from our offices in West Chester in Chester County, PA.
Even if remaining in the United States is not the best option, we will advise you on the best option to one day lawfully return to the United States, if possible. Call us today at (610) 436-1410 to schedule a consultation if you or a family member is in removal proceedings.
This article was last edited on Monday, December 28, 2015.