Houston Immigration Lawyers
Our Houston Immigration Attorneys assist those seeking assistance with deportation and removal proceedings. Contact us for more information.
When an individual is determined to be inadmissible or removable from the U.S. a waiver or an application for relief from removal may be available to allow him to enter or remain in the U.S. Our attorneys can determine eligibility for a waiver and assist in the preparation of the application.
Additionally, we represent individuals that have been placed in removal or deportation proceedings, including those who are in immigration detention facilities.
Our attorneys maintain an active court docket before the Executive Office for Immigration Review and are experienced in assisting clients seeking relief from removal through cancellation of removal, asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the UN’s Convention Against Torture (CAT).
We have successfully appealed cases to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the federal courts.
Removal and Deportation
Removal and/or deportation are processes by which the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the U.S. Department of Justice/Department of Homeland Security (DHS) attempt to deport/remove non-citizens from the United States.
What are the Basic Requirements of Removal Proceedings?
There are certain requirements to removal proceedings that serve as guarantees to the non-U.S. citizen that he or she will be treated as fairly as the process allows. The non-U.S. citizen must be given proper notice and may choose to be represented by an attorney. The non-U.S. citizen must be given the opportunity to present evidence on his or her behalf and examine the evidence against him or her. The decision to remove/deport or not to remove/deport the non-U.S. citizen must be based on “reasonable, substantial, and probative evidence.”
Why Would a Person Be Subject to Removal?
A person may face removal proceedings for a number of reasons.
1) have entered the U.S. without authorization;
2) have overstayed their visas;
3) have violated terms of their visas; or
4) have been convicted of certain crimes which may be subject to removal proceedings.
A non-U.S. citizen, including a lawful permanent resident (LPR), may face removal proceedings because they have committed a certain crime. The INS usually defines these classes of crimes as aggravated felonies; crimes of moral turpitude; crimes of violence; and crimes involving the sale and/or possession of illegal drugs.
How is a Person Placed in Removal Proceedings?
Removal proceedings begin with the service of the Notice to Appear (NTA). The NTA is basically the official charging document of the INS that places a non-U.S. citizen in removal proceedings. The NTA contains a general statement of the allegations and charges against the non-U.S. citizen, a description of the activity that is allegedly illegal, and a list of the statutory provisions alleged to be violated. The NTA also lists the time and place the non-U.S. citizen is required to appear before the Immigration Judge.
Once you receive NTA you should promptly contact an attorney to assist you. You will only be given a certain amount of time before you must appear before the Immigration Judge.
The Removal Hearings
When a non-U.S. citizen is taken into custody, BICE does have the option to release the non-U.S. citizen. If ICE does not release the non-U.S. citizen on bond, the non-U.S. citizen may request a Bond Hearing before an Immigration Judge. At the Bond Hearing, the non-U.S. citizen must show that they are not a danger to the community and that they are not a flight risk.
The non-U.S. citizen must also demonstrate to the court that they will attend all of their future hearings.
The Master Calendar Hearing is generally the non-U.S. citizen’s first appearance in Immigration Court. The Master Calendar is a preliminary hearing to review the charges in the NTA before an Immigration Judge. The Immigration Judge will explain the non-U.S. citizen’s rights (e.g., the non-U.S. citizen’s right to an attorney). If the non-U.S. citizen feels he or she is not ready to proceed at the Master Calendar Hearing, for example, if the non-U.S. citizen needs some time to hire an attorney, the non-U.S. citizen must ask the judge for a continuance with “good cause”; most Immigration Judges will allow this continuance. If the non-U.S. citizen is ready to proceed at this Hearing, with or without an attorney, the judge will ask if the non-U.S. citizen agrees or denies the charges as alleged by the INS in the NTA. If the non-U.S. citizen does not agree with the charges, the non-U.S. citizen can and should deny the charges and ask the government to prove its case.
The Immigration Judge will determine if the non-U.S. citizen is eligible for any form(s) of relief, and set a date for the Individual Merits Hearing.
The Individual Merits Hearing is when the government must prove the charges alleged in the NTA. The non-U.S. citizen also is able to present his or her case to the Immigration Judge with witnesses and persuade the Immigration Judge to use his or her discretion and allow the non-U.S. citizen to remain in the United States (if such relief exists).
At the conclusion of the removal proceedings, the Immigration Judge will determine if the non-U.S. citizen should or should not be removed from the U.S.
The Consequences of Removal
If the Immigration Judge orders “removal” in the non-U.S. citizen’s case, the non-U.S. citizen loses their privilege to remain in the United States. If this is the non-U.S. citizen’s first order of removal, the non-U.S. citizen cannot legally return to the United States for at least ten years or more depending on the specific case. If the non-U.S. citizen was convicted of an aggravated felony, he or she may never be able to return to the U.S.
Does Relief Exist?
Relief from removal/deportation may exist to certain non-U.S. citizens. An non-U.S. citizen’s eligibility for relief depends on many factors, and is determined on a case-by-case basis, e.g., the length of time the non-U.S. citizen has resided in the United States.
If after looking over the charges on the NTA, we can determine that the non-U.S. citizen is eligible for relief, CALEHR AND ASSOCIATES will prepare the non-U.S. citizen’s application for relief and present this to the Immigration Court on their behalf. Examples of relief include: Cancellation of Removal for Lawful Permanent Residents/Non-Lawful Permanent Residents; Adjustment of Status; and/or Voluntary Departure.
Refugees” and Asylum Under U.S. Law
“Asylum” is a type of protection that enables individuals who are in the U.S. to remain here under certain conditions and circumstances. U.S. law states that any alien who arrives in or is present in the U.S. may apply for asylum.
In order to obtain asylum, the alien must be a “refugee” as defined by federal law and must not be barred from obtaining asylum under applicable laws and regulations. Federal law defines refugees as persons outside their home country or country of residence, who are unable or unwilling to return because of persecution “or a well-founded fear of persecution” on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Circumstances Under Which Asylum May be Prohibited
There may be no authority for granting asylum under the following circumstances:
• The U.S. Attorney General determines that the alien can be sent to a third country, where the alien’s life or freedom will not be threatened and where asylum or equivalent protection may be obtained, unless it is in the public interest to grant asylum in the U.S.
• The alien fails to document “by clear and convincing evidence” that the application for asylum was filed within one year from the date of arrival in the U.S., unless certain exceptions to this deadline apply.
• The alien has previously applied for and been denied asylum, unless the alien can demonstrate changed circumstances that materially affect asylum eligibility.
A grant of asylum is “discretionary.” Thus, even if a showing of refugee status is made, the U.S. Attorney General does not have to grant asylum. The law further provides that courts generally do not have jurisdiction to review the determination of the U.S. Attorney General on asylum.
Exceptions to the Grant of Asylum
The Attorney General may not grant asylum, even where the alien is otherwise qualified, if the alien:
• Ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in persecution of any persons on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion;
• Has been convicted of a particularly serious crime (such as certain aggravated felonies) and constitutes a danger to the community;
• Committed a serious, nonpolitical crime outside the U.S. prior to arrival;
• May be a danger to the security of the U.S.
• Has been involved with terrorist organizations or activity; or
• Was firmly settled in another country prior to arriving in the U.S., other than the country where there was persecution or a credible fear of persecution.
Rights and Limitations of Asylum Status
A grant of asylum in the U.S. is usually for an indefinite period; however, asylum status does not give the asylee the right to permanently remain in the U.S. Changed circumstances, such as commission of an aggravated felony by the asylee or changed circumstances in the home country, can result in termination of the status. Asylum status gives the asylee certain benefits, including:
• The authorization to work in the U.S. while enjoying asylum status.
• Entitlement to “derivative” asylum status for a
spouse and unmarried children 21 years of age at the time the alien
applied for asylum.
• Eligibility to apply for permanent resident status after one year.