Deportation Proceedings and Immigration Status
An important aspect of the deportation issue is that, depending upon the facts, many people can be targeted for deportation, even if they are lawfully residing in the United States. The fact is that anyone who is not a United States citizen can be subject to deportation in certain circumstances.
Deportation proceedings – which are now referred to as “removal proceedings” – begin when the government has determined that you no longer qualify as a lawful resident. Keep in mind that if you are unlawfully in the US, you have few rights. You can be deported, without a hearing, in as little as 24 hours.
On the other hand, if you are a lawful resident – including those holding Green Cards, visas (including student visas, among others), you have the right to a hearing prior to deportation. You also have the right to appeal an adverse decision on the deportation issue.
Grounds for Being Deported from the United States
There are numerous grounds for the institution of deportation hearings for those who are lawfully in the United States. The following categories summarize several of the more common reasons you may become the target of a removal proceeding:
- Conviction of Certain Crimes. Being charged with a crime is not a basis for the institution of deportation proceedings. However, certain criminal convictions lead to expulsion from the country. The applicable crimes are generally classified as crimes of moral turpitude and aggravated felonies. They also include gun crimes, drug crimes, and domestic violence offenses. Note that a conviction may still be used for deportation purposes even if the conviction has been expunged.
- Drug Addiction. While “drug addiction” is a shorthand way of describing one basis for the institution of removal proceedings, the fact is that conviction of possession of even a small amount of drugs (with the exception of a small amount of marijuana for personal use) can lead to deportation.
- This refers, among other things, to alleged fraud in obtaining a Green Card, for example, misrepresentation of citizenship, using false documentation in order to get a job or to obtain a government benefit, marrying solely for purposes of obtaining citizenship, etc.
- Deportation of Citizens of the United States. The only way to be deported as a US citizen is if you obtained your citizenship (or Green Card) through fraudulent means.
While the above lists common reasons for the institution of removal proceedings, the fact that those proceedings have been initiated does not mean that you necessarily will be deported. Defenses do exist, and an experienced Phoenix immigration attorney can determine what defense(s) apply in your case.
Removal Defense Attorney in Phoenix, AZ
Deportation proceedings include two separate stages. In the first stage, a decision will be made by the immigration judge as to whether you are deportable (on not entitled to admission). If the answer to the first question is affirmative, then you may apply for relief from removal. Grounds for relief may include:
- If you are eligible for asylum, you may raise that issue at your removal proceeding.
- If you hold a valid Green Card, for example, you may be eligible for relief.
- Waiver/Suspension of Deportation. This includes issues such as extreme hardship (hardship waiver), and the length of time during which you have resided in the US.
Whether one of these defenses, or another defense, applies in your case should be determined by an experienced immigration lawyer. If you are facing a deportation/removal hearing, call us to find out your rights, and whether you may have a defense to the government’s actions.