Non-citizens, including permanent residents (or “green card holders”) can be deported or removed from the United States for various immigration violations. The list of these violations is extensive and includes certain obvious matters, such as entering or remaining in the US without authorization to less obvious violations such as convictions for relatively minor, nonviolent crimes. Your legal rights can vary drastically depending upon how, when and where you are detained by the immigration officials. If you are detained trying to enter the US, for example, you may be detained and removed without benefit of an attorney under a process known as Expedited Removal.
The government cannot remove you under expedited removal if you have already entered the US, you are already a permanent resident or you request political asylum. In these cases, you are entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge and you have the right to have an attorney represent you during every stage of these proceedings.
CONSULTING WITH AN EXPERIENCE IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY IS CRITICAL WHENEVER YOU ARE PLACED IN REMOVAL PROCEEDINGS AND YOU SHOULD NOT PROVIDE ANY INFORMATION TO AN IMMIGRATION OFFICIAL OTHER THAN YOUR IDENTITY DOCUMENTS WITHOUT SPEAKING WITH AN ATTORNEY!!!!!!!
Even if you are deportable, you may be able to avoid deportation in many instances, particularly if you have a well-founded fear of returning home, are eligible as a Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ), have certain close US family members in the US, or have other key factors or unusual hardships such as more than 10 years of physical presence in the US and extreme hardship to a close US relative.
If you are detained, you will have access to a telephone. Before making your call, you should make note of where you are detained, the “A#” or file number of your case, and be able to explain your circumstances to family or friends. Once an attorney is retained, that attorney will be able to speak and meet with you and help to prepare your defense. In most cases, this may include a bond application that will allow you to be released from detention while your case works its way through the immigration court.
Although time frames differ between immigration courts around the country, most immigration cases are taking 2-4 years to get resolved and some take many years more. More importantly, your chances of successfully fighting deportation will most often depend on the judge assigned to your case. In New York City, for example, the approval rates for asylum applications are about 70% and certain judges approve more than 90% of their asylum cases. In Atlanta, the approval rate is closer to 10% and one judge has approved less than 3% of his cases. (In Houston, one of the Immigration judge has never approved any of more than 100 asylum cases he has presided over.)