7 Ways to Stop Deportation

As of this writing about 450,000 immigrants await removal hearings. Around 10% of them sit in jails. Over 2 million immigrants have been ‘removed’ since President Obama entered the Oval Office (‘removal’ is what Congress has called ‘deportation’ since 1997).

Obama has referred to illegal immigrants as “gangbangers”, but this is simply not true in most cases. According to statistics in 2011, less than half of the people deported had felonies or misdemeanors. And since 2014 the number of deportees who have been convicted of any criminal offense apart from an immigration or traffic violation has actually declined.

These statistics show the reality.

America deports many people who might be contributing members of our society. You could be deported for immigration violations, DUIs, illegal entry, or for a shoplifting conviction that happened over a decade previously -even if you have rehabilitated your life in the meantime.

Here are 7 Ways to Stop Deportation:

1. Apply for political asylum: In recent years asylum grants have jumped to over 50% as compared to when I started practicing immigration law in the 1990s, with rates back then around only 17% !    A  profound fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or social group must be shown.

2. Waivers of removal: The most common ways to stop deportation include the old 212(c) pardon for green card holders with certain crimes who can show that their good deeds outweigh their bad acts.   212(c) was replaced by Cancellation of Removal for Certain Permanent Residents but the balancing test is the same.

3. Prosecutorial Discretion: A memo issued in recent years directs The Department of Homeland Security to stop deportation for humanitarian reasons.  This guidance is nothing new as prosecutorial discretion has been around for decades.  Many are disappointed that more immigrants have not received this protection, but a strong application may stop deportation.

4. Cancellation of Removal for non permanent residents: Unlike the waiver noted above, this application to stop deportation is for people who ask an Immigration Judge to give them a green card upon proving ten years in the United States, good moral character plus exceptional and unusual hardship to certain American family members, typically children.

5.  U Visa: This application is for immigrant victims of violent crimes and is used to deter criminals from preying on the undocumented. Along with the T visa for victims of human trafficking, the U benefits foreigners who cooperate with law enforcement agencies.  Not only will it stop deportation but it will result in a green card, eventually.

6. I-601 waivers for immigrants charged with fraud, unlawful presence or crime: The immigrant generally must have no drug offenses, and also needs to prove extreme hardship to a qualifying relative, frequently a United States citizen, but in some cases a green card holder.  Seven years of living in America is required as well in most but not all 601 cases.

7. Voluntary Departure:  When all else fails, promising to buy a ticket to leave still beats removal.  This way to stop deportation may of course still result in leaving the country but it may make a lawful re-entry easier.

As always I remind you to seek formal legal advice from a superior immigration lawyer with extensive experience in knowing how to stop deportation. An immigration lawyer can make all the difference in your ability to be successful in your case


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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