When the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE ) suspects that a person present in the United States has no right to remain in the country, either because the person entered unlawfully, his status has already expired, the person violated the conditions of stay, or the person has been convicted of a crime, among others, such person may be referred to removal proceedings, commonly known as deportation proceedings.
Removal procedures are held before an Immigration Court. There, an administrative law judge from the U.S. Department of Justice determines whether a person is, indeed, deportable and if he qualifies for any remedy against deportation under our immigration laws. Some of these remedies are asylum, cancellation of removal, protection under the Convention Against Torture, among others.
Removal proceedings start with the issuance and personal service of a document known as a “Notice to Appear “. Much like a “complaint” or “indictment” in criminal proceedings, ICE will state in such document the known immigration status of the person, the reasons why such person may be deported from the United States, and the date on which such person must appear before an Immigration Court to plead and request a relief from deportation. According to that information, the alien may apply for the grant of a remedy to cancel his deportation and stay in the country, or to neutralize the adverse effect that deportation may have on his immigration record.
Contrary to popular belief , being detained by ICE or by another agency of the Immigration Service, and being placed in removal proceedings does not mean that a person will be automatically deported. Depending on the case, the person may have a legal relief against deportation.
If you have been placed in removal proceedings and need legal assistance, we recommend that you call an immigration attorney. Even if an Immigration Court ordered you deported (“removed”), you may still have the right to appeal such order, or request the Court to reconsider the order, or reopen the case.