12 Things You Must Know About Deportation Defense

It’s incredible.  People are supposed to know their rights. 

But Immigrants sometimes are unaware.

Here are 12 Things You Must Know About Deportation Defense:

1.      You have a right to a hearing.

Nobody served with a Notice to Appear in Removal Proceedings can just be deported. Often denials of green card applications contain language that says “you have 30 days to leave or face deportation.” Those decisions fail to mention hearing rights.  A small group of immigrants does not have a right to a hearing, but speak to a superior immigration lawyer to learn about your rights.

2.      You have the right to an attorney.

Just like criminal trials.

3.      But the right to counsel does not include free legal representation.

Not just like criminal trials.

4.      You thus must find a lawyer and retain services for legal defense.

This is where things really get serious.

5.      The court will provide an interpreter in any language, no matter what, for anyone on trial or witnesses whose first language is not English.

You have a right to be understood. Even if your English is good, a judge will make sure that you can express yourself the best way you know how. AND YOUR LAWYER should understand you. For example, I speak Spanish. This makes many of my clients feel at ease. But fluency in a foreign language is not the only reason to hire a lawyer.

6.      Please understand that this process is very complicated.

This is an understatement. It is often said that along with tax law, the immigration laws are the most complex of all. And the sections on deportation defense and waivers are even more confusing than other parts of the Immigration Act.

7.      Do your research. Do not just call local attorneys who say that they “do immigration cases.”

This is a big “no-no.” Anyone can say that they do any type of case. And convenience of travel is not a good reason to hire an immigration attorney. Many of us have offices right near the Immigration Courts for a reason. We appear there so often that we must be nearby. So, if you have to travel a distance to our offices, there’s a good reason.

8.      Do not start by asking for a free consultation.

This is your life. NOT the time to go bargain hunting.

9.      Look for a lawyer who concentrates in deportation defense.

Ask how long they have been practicing and what they can tell you about your case, how often they appear in Immigration Court, and how many similar cases they have handled.

10.  Again, this is your life. Do not let the cost dictate who you hire.

Be sure that you feel comfortable putting your life in another’s hands. Nobody brags about what a great bargain they got from the doctor who performed successful, life-saving heart surgery or cured their cancer. Too many folks come into our office, looking to hire us to appeal a deportation order. The first thing they say is “I should have hired someone like you before my first hearing.”

11.  Failure to appear at a hearing will result in an order of removal (deportation).

There is virtually no excuse for being absent from Immigration Court.  People who were not served properly with a Notice to Appear may have an argument.  However, these are difficult cases.  Also, serious health conditions that prevent you from appearing might be acceptable, but again, these are very challenging arguments to make.

12.  Be careful out there.

Contact an experienced lawyer with concentration in deportation defense with questions.

This article is designed for general information and should not be construed to be formal legal advice.

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Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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