It’s pretty well-known that Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s arrested over 42,000 people in Texas last year– and that ICE deportation is on the rise all over the country. But what is deportation, and are there ways you can avoid it?
ICE Deportation: What You Need To Know
Deportation – now called removal – is defined as “the formal removal of an alien from the United States when the alien has been found removable for violating the immigration laws.”
Violating the immigration laws is a pretty broad term, but it basically refers committing crimes, threatening public safety, or violating the terms of a visa.
An immigration judge is the one who ultimately orders deportation, but the entire function is managed by ICE.
In some states, like Texas, the top levels of government are moving forward with aggressive legislation to allow authorities to identify, locate, and detain individuals who may not have proper authorization.
So called “sanctuary cities” that have been safe havens for undocumented immigrants are being threatened with reduced federal and state funding if they continue to release people that the immigration authorities want to be detained.
Deportation seems to be the best solution in the minds of many state and federal officials and legislators. This solution is most likely aimed at individuals who have committed crimes.
Grounds Of Deportability: Reasons ICE Can Deport Someone
ICE must have a reason to deport someone – they’re not legally allowed to toss someone out of the U.S. for no reason. The agency can deport anyone who holds a nonimmigrant visa or who has a green card, provided that person has violated anything in Section 237 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act.
ICE cannot deport U.S. citizens unless they used fraud to get a green card or citizenship. Once a person is naturalized, they’re generally safe from ICE.
Section 237 Of The U.S. Immigration And Nationality Act
Section 237 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act describes the reasons ICE can deport people. Some grounds of deportability include:
- Being convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude within five years after the date of admission
- Being convicted of an aggravated felony
- Being convicted of domestic violence, stalking, child abuse or child neglect, or child abandonment at any time
- Being convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude at any time after admission
- Being inadmissible at the time of U.S. entry
- Committing marriage fraud to illegally obtain immigration benefits
- Failing to register as a sex offender
- Having permanent resident status terminated
- Knowingly helping smuggle another alien into the U.S.
- Violated travel and documentation restrictions
This isn’t a complete list – there are several other reasons the government can use to remove you from the U.S.
The ICE Deportation Process
ICE deportation follows a certain process, whether it’s the typical process or expedited removal (see the section “Expedited Removal” below for more information).
When ICE deports someone, the process typically goes this way:
- Expedited removal, if applicable
- Notice to appear
- Voluntary departure
- Bond hearing
- Master calendar hearing
- Merits hearing
- Order of removal
If the government suspects you entered the U.S. illegally, law enforcement can arrest you and transfer you to ICE custody. U.S. Border Patrol agents can arrest you at the border or at an airport, while police officers can arrest you on a crime and share your arrest information with ICE. ICE can request that law enforcement hold you for up to 48 hours and turn you over to them, but local law enforcement agencies don’t have to comply.
People who show up in the United States without travel documents, or those who have forged travel documents, can be deported quickly without having a hearing. In cases like these, ICE can use an order of expedited removal – and the officer who decides to use expedited removal has the final say. Usually, the person subject to expedited removal has no right to talk to an immigration judge.
It’s important that you know expedited removal can also be used for individuals who:
- Arrived in the U.S. by sea and were encountered within 2 years of arrival
- Are encountered within 100 miles of an international border within 14 days of entering the U.S.
- Overstayed a visa
If you are removed from the U.S. through expedited removal, you can’t come back to the U.S. for at least 5 years. (In some cases, there are exceptions. You should talk to a Texas immigration attorney if you’ve been barred from the U.S. but want to come here – you could be eligible for a waiver.)
Notice To Appear
If ICE doesn’t use the expedited removal process on you, the court process begins. You’ll receive a Notice to Appear that lists the reasons the government believes you are violating immigration law. You may get the Notice to Appear from an immigration officer or you might receive it in the mail. You’re supposed to have at least 10 days notice before your court date.
You can be detained if ICE intends to remove you. Typically, detainees are held in immigration detention centers or in a contracted prison.
You may volunteer to leave the U.S. on your own. If you do, you could qualify to return to the U.S. later. In order to volunteer to leave the U.S. and qualify, you must:
- Have the money to leave the country on your own
- Post at least a $500 bond
- Produce a valid travel document
- Have been a person of “good moral character” for at least 5 years
This option isn’t available to people who have been granted voluntary departure before.
You’ll go before an immigration judge for a bond hearing. It’s like bail – you agree to return to court or you’ll forfeit your bond. If the judge grants you bond and you can pay it, you’re released – if not, you stay in custody.
Master Calendar Hearing
A master calendar hearing determines how your case will proceed; the judge decides what defense he or she will consider, such as:
- Cancellation of removal due to a long history in the U.S., or due to status as a legal permanent resident
- Marriage to a U.S. citizen or another relation
You and your attorney can attend the merits hearing, where you’ll present arguments that you should be permitted to stay in the U.S.
Order Of Removal
If the judge doesn’t agree with you at your merits hearing, you’ll get an order of removal. You can appeal if the judge doesn’t decide in your favor.
You can appeal the judge’s decision, and you can request a delay of deportation until the matter is settled. However, know that appeals can take months – and people sometimes stay incarcerated during the appeal process, even if they’re eligible for bond.
If your appeal is unsuccessful, you’ll be sent back to your home country. If you’re from Mexico, ICE usually flies you to a border city and sends you across a border crossing on foot or in a bus. If you’re from a Central American country or anywhere else, ICE will fly you direct.
Tips From A Deportation Attorney On Avoiding Deportation
Now that you know how stressful and strenuous the deportation process can be, we want to help make sure you can avoid it at all costs.
Stay Clean and See a Deportation Attorney
Therefore, the first and most important way to avoid deportation is to stay out of trouble.
Secondly, you should seek the expert advice of an experienced deportation attorney who may have strategies that can keep your family together and avoid deportation. In Dallas, one immigration law firm, Davis & Associates is committed to protecting the rights of non-citizens with a sincere compassion for keeping families together.
Legal Strategies That May Avoid Deportation
Here are some strategies that may be used to avoid deportation:
- Political Asylum: In some cases, individuals have been able to prove that returning to their native land can be dangerous due to their religious, racial, political, or social background. In recent years, the number of political asylums granted has risen sharply.
- Waivers of Removal: This method requires presenting the case that your good deeds far outweigh any crimes that you may have been committed.
- Adjustment of Status: If you are married to a U.S. citizen or green card holder, you may apply for permanent residency. If you entered the U.S. without proper documentation, you should return to your home country to apply for residency legally.
- Humanitarian Reasons or Prosecutorial Discretion: In this situation, a case is made for the hardship that deportation of an individual may impose on the family or other dependents. Often, the undocumented immigrant is the primary source of income for the household.
- Cancellation of Removal: A judge may determine that an undocumented resident who has been in the country for more than ten years has contributed positively by working hard, supporting a family, and staying out of legal trouble. Based on positive facts, the judge may decide that the person is worthy of a green card and permanent residency.
- U Visa: In this case, an individual or family may have been victims of crimes and have cooperated with law enforcement to locate the perpetrators. As a reward, these persons may avoid deportation and eventually receive green cards.
- I-601 Waivers: An individual may avoid deportation after having been in the country for at least seven years, is drug-free, and is caring for someone who is solely dependent.
- Voluntary Departure: While leaving still constitutes a departure from the United States, departing voluntarily does not leave the stigma of being forced by a deportation ruling. Leaving in this manner will not be seen as a negative should the person wish to return.
Contact a Proven and Qualified Deportation Attorney
Before you and your family face the possibility of deportation, consult with an experienced deportation attorney regarding your situation. Many who felt safe in their environment in the past may feel challenged today under current conditions.
Two primary reasons for consulting a qualified deportation attorney:
Discuss Your Options: A consultation with a qualified immigration deportation attorney may uncover a strategy that can change the potential for expulsion. If you have stayed out of trouble, worked hard, and have been in the country for several of years, your case should be strong. A deportation attorney may be able to pursue a change of status that can protect you even further.
Someone to Call in an Emergency: If you are challenged by law enforcement, an immigration attorney who is familiar with your situation is essential. Protecting you and your rights as a resident should be their primary mission.
Can You Prevent ICE From Deporting You?
It is sometimes possible to prevent ICE deportation. If you’re like many people, you could benefit from the help of a Houston and Dallas immigration attorney.
Contact Davis & Associates in Dallas for a Free Consultation
Davis & Associates in Dallas and Houston, Texas, is a premier, award-winning immigration law firm. Their mission is to protect the rights of those who hope to remain in the United States to work, live, and succeed.
The multilingual staff of Davis & Associates will be pleased to meet with you to discuss your situation. Experienced and well-prepared, a Davis & Associates deportation attorney will work with you to identify strategies that pertain to your situation and avoid the calamity of deportation.
Phone Davis & Associates at 214.28.9888 or visit their website and blogs relating to immigration matters.
About Davis & Associates:
Davis & Associates is the immigration law firm of choice in Houston & North Texas including Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Frisco, McKinney and surrounding areas. Their attorneys provide expert legal counsel for all aspects of immigration law, including deportation defense, writs of habeas corpus and mandamus, family-sponsored immigration, employment-sponsored immigration, investment immigration, employer compliance, temporary visas for work and college, permanent residence, naturalization, consular visa processing, waivers, and appeals. Attorney Garry L. Davis is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Dallas Contact Info:
Address: 17750 Preston Road Dallas, TX 75252
Houston Contact Info: Address: 6220 Westpark Dr, Suite 110, Houston, TX 77057
Phone: (832) 742-0066