Raul Ray, Esq. When a person who is not a citizen of the United States is placed into removal proceedings the wheels of uncertainty begin to spin.  Family members...

Raul Ray, Esq.

When a person who is not a citizen of the United States is placed into removal proceedings the wheels of uncertainty begin to spin.  Family members are often left in a state of panic, confusion, depression and financial despair and don’t know who to turn to for help. Getting information or simply trying to locate a family member who has been taken into immigration custody can become time consuming and frustrating.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is an agency under the United States Department of Homeland Security.  Other than the FBI, ICE is the largest law enforcement organization in the United States and enforces both immigration and customs laws.

ICE doesn’t just remove undocumented immigrants who enter the country illegally or commit crimes. They go after people who overstay their visas or accepts unauthorized employment as well as lawful permanent residents who commit certain crimes or are absent from the USA for a long period of time.

What happens after ICE pickups an undocumented or legal immigrant?  Generally speaking, the  undocumented or legal immigrant is processed for removal proceedings at a local ICE office.  They are fingerprinted, photographed, and served with several documents regarding the removal process.  After that, they are taken to a jail, detention, or correctional facility to be housed during the course of  removal proceedings unless they are released from custody on a bond or other intensive monitoring arrangement set up by ICE.

If an undocumented immigrant has been previously removed and reentered the USA illegally, then chances are that ICE will seek to remove the person in accordance with the previous removal or deportation order.  This process is referred to as Reinstatement of Removal and undocumented immigrants in this situation will be removed without the opportunity of appearing before an immigration judge unless they can first convince an asylum officer that they have a reasonable fear of returning to their country.

An undocumented immigrant or lawful permanent resident in removal proceedings who wants to stay in the United States has a right to fight their removal and be represented in court by an immigration attorney at their own expense.

Contacting an experienced immigration lawyer as soon as possible is very important because they can evaluate the case to determine whether immigration relief is available and the chances of getting that relief granted by an immigration judge.  They can also determine whether a person who is detained can be released on bond and whether the case, if located in another city or state can be moved to an immigration court closer to the person’s home.

Once removal proceedings begin, the hearing process generally consist of a bond hearing, master calendar hearing and individual or merits hearing. At a bond hearing, the immigration judge will decide whether a detained individual should be released on bond while removal proceedings are pending.

At the master calendar hearing, the immigrant will admit or deny the allegations in the charging document called the Notice to Appear, concede or deny removability and inform the immigration judge of the immigration relief that the immigrant will be applying for to avoid being removed from the United States.

At the individual or merits hearing, the immigration judge will determine if the immigrant gets to stay in the United States or will have to leave after hearing all the evidence presented by the attorney for the immigrant and the U.S. government’s attorney. At the hearing, the immigrant’s attorney will present documents, take testimony on direct examination from the immigrant, the immigrant’s family members and any expert witnesses. The government attorney will also be given an opportunity to cross-exam any witnesses presented by the immigrant’s attorney.

The immigration judge will then decide whether to grant the immigrant’s relief, or order removal.  Adverse decisions against an immigrant can be appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and then through the federal court system.

If you or someone you know is facing removal from the USA, contact an experienced immigration attorney or reputable nonprofit agency providing legal services for immigrants in removal proceedings.

For more information please feel free to contact Raul Ray, Attorney at Law, at Law Offices of Raul Ray, (408)279-5793, 1671 The Alameda, Suite 200, San Jose, CA  95126.  Email: raulray@deportationattorney.com