The potential for deportation, which in immigration proceedings is called “removal,” is frightening to anyone. However, government officials must still follow important procedures before removing someone from the United States, including giving most people the right to consult with and be represented by an attorney.
Reasons for Deportation
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may seek to remove a person from the United States for numerous reasons. Some of the most commons reasons for removal are:
- Entering the United States without authorization or remaining in the United States for longer than your authorized stay;
- Committing crimes such as theft, fraud related offenses, drug related offenses, or even a DUI; or
- Failing to obey the terms of your immigration status.
The more serious the person’s offense, the more likely it is that the government will attempt to remove them. Further, if the government believes that a person’s actions makes them a flight risk or a threat to public safety, ICE officers may detain that person and hold them in immigration custody until their removal proceedings are complete. Regardless of whether a person is detained or free, the government must follow specific procedures when attempting to remove them from the United States.
Notice to Appear
An individual (in this case known as the Respondent) will receive a document called a notice to appear (NTA). The NTA is a very important document that you should read carefully. In addition to stating the reasons and allegations for deportation, the NTA also informs the Respondent of the date and time of his or her immigration court hearing, the consequences for failing to appear at the hearing, and his or her responsibilities during immigration proceedings. You should make sure that you fully understand what is written in the NTA or seek help from an experienced immigration lawyer.
Master Calendar Hearing
The first time the Respondent goes to immigration court will be for what is called a “Master Calendar Hearing.” This hearing is similar to a pre-trial hearing. The immigration judge will explain the charges against the Respondent, ask whether the Respondent intends to submit any immigration applications, and will set the case for a merits hearing (called an “Individual Hearing”) in the future. The immigration judge may also give the Respondent deadlines to submit additional applications or evidence in support of their case.
The Master Calendar Hearing is a very important hearing that you must attend. Failure to attend your hearing will result in a removal order that you will not have the opportunity to challenge. Importantly, you have the right to be represented by an attorney during your removal proceedings, including at your Master Calendar Hearing.
An Individual Hearing is a merits hearing during which the government must prove its allegations against the Respondent. It is also the Respondent’s opportunity to challenge the government’s allegations and argue in favor of any applications that were previously submitted. During the Individual Hearing, the Respondent has the right to be represented by counsel, testify on his or her behalf, call witnesses, and cross-examine the government’s witnesses. At the end of the case, the immigration judge will typically make a decision about the Respondent’s status in the U.S.
Fight For Your Right to Stay in the U.S.
Unlike a typical court of law in which defendants are innocent until proven guilty, Respondents in immigration court bear the burden of proving their right to stay in the United States. Fortunately, Respondents facing removal proceedings do not have to fight the accusation alone. The knowledgeable attorneys at Murray Osorio PLLC have helped countless individuals facing this type of charge stay in the U.S. Reach out to see how our team can help you or a loved one fight for their right to stay in the United States.