What are Removal Proceedings?
Removal proceedings are legal procedures that determine whether a non-citizen should be removed from the United States. The proceedings are initiated by the government, usually through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and conducted in the immigration court, which is the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).
Removal proceedings can have serious consequences, including separation from family and friends, loss of immigration status, and the possibility of being barred from returning to the United States. Understanding the process and procedures involved is crucial for individuals who may face such proceedings or who may have a loved one facing removal. It can also help individuals navigate the complex US immigration system and make informed decisions.
You may run into the following steps in removal proceedings:
- Master Calendar Hearing: This is a short preliminary hearing where the non-citizen meets with the immigration judge (IJ) and the government attorney to find out how the case will proceed. The IJ will schedule dates for the submission of written documents and for the individual merits hearing. The immigration judge will not make a decision on the substance of the case.
- Individual Hearing: This is a hearing during which the non-citizen will have the opportunity to present arguments, evidence and give testimony that he or she is eligible for immigration status and should remain in the United States. The judge may hear the evidence during one or multiple hearings. In this hearing, the IJ will make the final decision to either allow the non-citizen to remain in the U.S. or be deported to his or her designated country.
- Voluntary Departure: This is a process in which a non-citizen agrees to depart from the United States voluntarily, rather than being deported. In this situation, individuals may choose to depart voluntarily to avoid a formal removal order, which could have negative consequences for their future immigration prospects. However, if the individuals fail to depart within the specified time, they may face more severe consequences.
- Removal/Deportation: This is the formal removal of a non-citizen from the United States when he or she has been found to be in violation of immigration law. It can be issued against individuals who have committed certain crimes, overstayed their visas, or violated immigration laws in other ways.
What are the rights of a person in Removal Proceedings?
Although a person is in removal proceedings, they still have rights that can be exercised. These include:
- Right to legal representation: Non-citizens facing removal proceedings have the right to be represented by an attorney. Legal representation can provide crucial guidance and support throughout the proceedings, including helping to present evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and advocating for the non-citizen’s rights and interests.
- Right to a fair hearing: Non-citizens facing removal proceedings have the right to a fair and impartial hearing before an immigration judge. This includes the right to present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and call witnesses to testify on their behalf.
- Right to due process: Non-citizens facing removal proceedings have the right to due process of law, including the right to be informed of the charges against them, the right to a fair and impartial hearing, and the right to appeal the decision. Due process also includes the right to access evidence and information that may be used against them and the right to be informed of the consequences of their decisions.
What are the next steps to take?
Removal proceedings are complex, and as such, it is important to take the right steps from the start.
- Hire an experienced immigration attorney to represent you.
- Gather and present all relevant evidence in support of your case.
- Stay informed about the laws and regulations related to removal proceedings.
- Be prepared to participate fully in the hearing and present your case effectively.
In conclusion, removal proceedings can have serious and long-lasting consequences for non-citizens and their families, but it isn’t a dead end, and you have many options.