When an alien is placed in a removal / deportation proceeding, there are certain rights that an alien possesses.  For example, during a removal / deportation hearing, courts have acknowledged that an alien is entitled to have the assistance of a lawyer.  However, counsel is not appointed and the alien is given time to find a lawyer.  Other things that the alien should know before arriving at a removal / deportation hearing:

  • The hearing is held in the district of the alien’s arrest or his residence.
  • The main functions of the immigration judge are to determine deportability and to establish the country of the alien’s deportation.  He also controls the conduct of the hearing and has the power to grant continuances.  At the end of the hearing, the judge renders his decision.
  • A trial attorney may be assigned to all removal / deportation cases in certain districts.  This attorney presents evidence on behalf of the Government and may examine the alien and witnesses.
  • Interpreters are very important in the deportation process.  At the hearing, the Government will furnish an interpreter.  In certain cases, an alien may be allowed to bring in his own interpreter to monitor the correctness of the translation.  Counsel should make certain that the interpreter speaks the same language and dialect as the alien.

Grounds of Removal / Deportability

There are many grounds of removal / deportability.  Some examples include:

  • Inadmissible at Time of Entry
    • Any alien who was inadmissible at the time of his entry or adjustment of his immigration status is deportable.
    • Those who are present in violation of any law of the U.S. are deportable.
    •  A nonimmigrant (those who only planned to visit the U.S. for a short period of time) that violates his nonimmigrant status, and any alien who has violated the conditions of his entry, is deportable.
    • Any alien who has in any way helped smuggle another alien into the country is deportable.
    • Those who have procured a visa or other documentation procured on the basis of a fraudulent marriage are deportable.
  • Criminal Offenses
    • An alien who has committed a crime of moral turpitude (an act which is intrinsically wrong) may be deportable.  It is not clear exactly what constitutes a crime of moral turpitude, but is based upon the moral standards prevailing in the U.S.
    • Those convicted of multiple crimes or an aggravated felony (such as murder, drug trafficking, or a theft in which the term of imprisonment is over one year) may be deportable.
    • Drug abusers or addicts, and those who violate controlled substances laws or regulations may be deportable.
    • Those who commit certain firearms offenses or domestic violence crimes may be deportable.
  • Failure to Register/Falsification of Documents
    • Those who have changed their address without notifying the Attorney General within 10 days may be deportable.
    • Any alien convicted of fraud or misuse of visas may be deportable.
    • Any alien who has falsified an immigration document is deportable.
  • Security
    • Those who have been or are engaged in acts of espionage (the illegal export of goods, technology, or sensitive information) or sabotage (activities relating to the overthrow of the U.S. government) against the U.S. are deportable.
    • Those who have or are engaged in terrorist activities are deportable.
    • Any alien whose presence the Secretary of State has reason to believe would have a serious adverse foreign policy consequence is deportable.
  • Economic
    • Those who have become a public charge (i.e. those who end up on welfare) from causes existing prior to admission may be deportable.
  • Unlawful Voters
    • Any alien who has voted in an election in violation of the law is deportable.

Should I Contact an Attorney?

If you are being deported or believe that you may be removed / deported it is important to speak to an immigration attorney.  They can advise you of your rights in this complicated area of the law.