What are Removal Proceedings?

Removal proceedings may result in an order allowing a foreign national to be deported for allegedly violating U.S. immigration laws. It’s an administrative proceeding, not a trial in a court, where the foreign national can have legal representation to defend their rights and interests. It’s a proceeding that needs to be taken very seriously, and if you live in the Lexington area and have received a notice to appear (NTA) in such a proceeding, you should contact our office.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the federal agency that handles immigration issues. That agency enforces immigration law and will put forth the evidence and make the arguments that the foreign national should be deported. The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), a part of the Department of Justice, oversees these proceedings.

The process begins with the Department of Homeland Security issuing an NTA which tells the person to appear and provides some important information:

  • The purpose and legal authority of the proceedings
  • Foreign national’s alleged legal violations
  • Charges filed against the person and the laws supposedly broken
  • Foreign national’s right to be represented by an attorney
  • Consequences of failing to appear
  • Requirement that the person provide a current address and telephone number.

The first hearing is often called the “master hearing.” At this and subsequent hearings, procedural issues are discussed such as the need for an interpreter, obtaining documents and conducting discovery (the process by which information is obtained).

The hearing where the evidence is presented and arguments are made is the “individual hearing.” USCIS must prove by “clear, convincing, and unequivocal evidence” that the foreign national can legally be removed from the country. There is an opening statement, witnesses provide testimony and documentary evidence (exhibits) is presented. There is no jury, and what’s allowed as evidence is much more broad than in a civil or criminal court.

How many procedural protections the foreign national has and the level of due process rights generally depends on the situation.

  • Aliens who allegedly entered and have stayed in the U.S. illegally have the least protection.
  • Nonimmigrant aliens who entered the country legally but who are accused of overstaying or violating the conditions of their admission have more due process rights.
  • Lawful resident aliens accused of committing some act making them removable (such as committing a crime, for example) are entitled to the most due process because of their status and “equities” (close family members in the country, especially U.S.-born children, ties to the community, stable employment and length of residence).

How the proceedings go depends on if the person qualifies for relief from removal. To do so, the person must meet specific criteria. In many removal proceedings, the foreign national admits that they can be deported but argues that they shouldn’t be because they qualify for some form of relief.  Such relief can be requested, including Cancellation of Removal, Asylum, Withholding of Removal, Protection under the Convention Against Torture, Adjustment of Status, Registry, Change of Status and Voluntary Departure.

If you live in the Lexington area and have been served with an NTA, you need to discuss the situation with a qualified immigration attorney to learn more about the law and how your rights can be protected. Talk with the dedicated Kentucky immigration lawyers at CF Abogados today. Please give CF Abogados a call at (859) 971-0060 or fill out the online contact form to GET HELP NOW.H

Attorney Kirby J. Fullerton

Mr. Fullerton’s practice is focused on immigration law. He speaks Spanish, and represents clients in cases before the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He began his career practicing criminal defense, and understands how matters in criminal courts can affect a client’s immigration status. [Attorney Bio]