Removal or deportation can happen to any non-citizen of the United States. It can happen to visitors, people who enter illegally, or lawful permanent residents (green card holders) who have lived in the U.S. for several years. This process can be extremely worrisome for clients, their families, and their friends. Each case is unique and can be very complicated. That is why it is important to talk to, and be represented by, an immigration attorney who has years of extensive experience in maneuvering through the process, whether it is at the Immigration Court or appeals stage.
We are determined to defend and protect our clients’ rights. We understand how stressful and devastating removal can be to a family, so we are aggressive in defending our clients to help keep families together. We have over 25 years of experience in all available removal defense strategies. We represent clients throughout California and when needed, we travel outside of California to represent our clients in the court where they are detained, such as Tacoma, Washington; Eloy, Arizona; or El Paso, Texas, to name a few.
There are a number of ways to successfully prevent removal or deportation. The best strategy for your case depends on the reason immigration court proceedings were initiated. Some common reasons for removal or deportation include:
- Criminal issues — Non-U.S. citizens who are accused of criminal conduct may face removal even if they are lawful permanent residents (green card holders). Before entering a plea to any criminal charge, it is important to consult a knowledgeable, experienced immigration attorney to discuss how your immigration status might be affected. Waivers for some criminal convictions are available in certain circumstances and can prevent negative immigration consequences.
- Violation of immigration laws — If you entered the United States illegally or have overstayed your visa, any contact you have with law enforcement can set removal or deportation proceedings in motion. If detained, you may be eligible to be released on a bond. We assist in this process and fight to get our clients released as soon as possible.
- Expiration of temporary visa — If your visitor or other non-immigrant visa expires, and you are still in the United States, you can face removal. Applying for an adjustment of status prior to deportation can prevent your removal. Another way to defend against deportation is to request asylum. Both strategies have very specific and complicated requirements, however, so it is best that you meet with an attorney before starting any application. If you have already received a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court, you should consult with us immediately.
What if I have been detained by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials?
If you have been detained by ICE, you can request release on bond either from ICE or from an immigration judge. A bond is an amount of money that you pay both to get released from detention and to promise that you will appear at future immigration court proceedings. Either ICE or the immigration judge sets the amount of the bond based on the risk that you may flee or the danger the judge or ICE thinks you may pose to society.
If you request a bond from an immigration judge, the immigration court will set a date for your bond hearing. When deciding whether to grant a bond, and what amount the bond should be, the immigration judge considers many factors, including your family and community ties to the United States, the length and seriousness of your criminal history, your financial stability, your history of immigration violations, the length of your residence in the United States, and the history of your appearances before courts. You or your attorney can present evidence in your favor to help the judge make the decision .If you have a family member or loved one who is currently detained, call us and let us know so that we can set an appointment for you on an urgent basis.
* Note that you may not be eligible for release from immigration detention. If you have committed certain crimes, ICE may contend that you are subject to “mandatory detention.” This means that you will not get an opportunity for a bond hearing. There are complex definitions for the categories of people who are not eligible for release from immigration detention. These categories also have exceptions. Because of the complexity, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney who has deep knowledge and experience with criminal immigration issues.
What if I have received a Notice to Appear from ICE?
A Notice to Appear (or, NTA) is issued to inform you that you are required to appear before an immigration judge to defend yourself against removal or deportation from the United States. It may be issued by either Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services . If you have received an NTA, you should immediately meet with one of our attorneys so that we can review it and determine the defenses that may be available to you.
Could my case be affected by Pereira v. Sessions?
The Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Pereira, was eligible for Cancellation of Removal because he was served a “putative” Notice to Appear (NTA). The Supreme Court held that because the NTA that was served on Mr. Pereira stated that he needed to appear before an Immigration Judge, “at a date to be set, at a time to be set,” the NTA was defective. One of the requirements for Cancellation of Removal is for the individual to have been physically present in the United States for 10 years or longer. This time stops accruing when the individual is served with a NTA before an Immigration Judge. An NTA served on an individual must specify the time, place, and date that the individual’s proceedings will take place. Thus, since the defective NTA served on Mr. Pereira lacked this information, it was deemed to not be a NTA and did not trigger the “stop-time” rule.
Under the Supreme Court’s decision, any NTA that does not meet the requirements set forth by the law is invalid and does not trigger the “stop-time” rule. This means that potentially thousands of individuals are now eligible to apply for Cancellation of Removal. For those individuals who have already had their proceedings closed or have been ordered removed, they may be able to get their case reopened in order to apply for Cancellation of Removal as a form of relief. It is important to note that to qualify for relief under the Pereira decision, a person must still meet the other requirements of Cancellation of Removal.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in Lopez v. Barr that a defective NTA missing time, date, and/or place of proceedings cannot be perfected by a subsequent Notice of Hearing for purposes of Cancellation of Removal and the “stop-time” rule. In their decision the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to defer to the BIA’s ruling in Matter of Mendoza-Hernandez, which had stated that a defective NTA could be fixed by a Notice of Hearing that states the time, date, and place of proceedings.
Another issue arising from the Pereira decision is whether a putative NTA grants jurisdiction to the immigration court. The BIA in Matter of Bermudez-Cota stated that when a NTA is missing the date, and time of proceedings, it still vests the Immigration Judge with jurisdiction as long as a Notice of Hearing with that information is later sent to the individual. Currently, some Immigration Judges have been terminating cases where the NTA served on an individual is missing the location of the proceedings based on the language in the Ninth Circuit case Karingithi v. Whitaker.
If you, or someone you know, believe they may be eligible for relief under Pereira and Karingithi please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.