Today, for the 4rd time in 2 weeks, I received a phone call from someone asking for help for a friend who was facing removal proceedings, commonly known as deportation. In a removal proceeding, the Immigration Judge makes a determination of whether the alien should be removed (deported) based on his or her “inadmissibility” or “deportability.” This usually depends on whether the alien has been “admitted” into the United States. If an alien is placed in removal proceedings and he or she has not been “admitted,” that person will be charged with a ground of “inadmissibility” (per section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act). If the alien has been “admitted” and is placed in removal proceedings, he or she will be charged with a ground of “deportability” (under section 237 of the INA).
Removal proceedings are initiated once the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) files the Notice to Appear (NTA) with the Immigration Court. Once the alien is placed in removal proceedings, the alien will typically have an opportunity to appear before the Immigration Court to challenge the charge of removability and apply for relief. Some of various forms of relief include: cancellation of removal, waivers for charges of inadmissibility, adjustment of status, asylum, withholding of removal, protection under the Convention Against Torture and voluntary departure. It must be noted, however, that relief from removal is not easily granted, and those seeking it must qualify.
Deportation removal proceedings are very problematic, and defense is further complicated as some aliens who entered the U.S. may not even be entitled to normal removal proceedings. Those who have made misrepresentations in immigration matters, who are undocumented, or who appear at the border as stowaways, crewmen, Visa Waiver Program participants, and suspected terrorists, may be subject to “expedited removal” or other immediate removal under inadmissibility grounds without a hearing.
I understand that unless you practice immigration law, you may not be aware just how complex this area of law is – but a common sense would dictate that if you overstayed your visa and as a result are now out of status, you really need to be careful. So why would anyone with a dubious immigration status decide to go on a vacation to Mexico? U.S.-Mexico border is not exactly open to all. Immigration crackdowns on “illegals” are on the news almost daily, plus all the drama created by the new Arizona immigration law makes it clear that if you are out of status or undocumented, you should not be sticking your neck out. That means, no travel out of the country, and definitively no criminal activities.