Common Defenses to Deportation
As Congressional lawmakers continue to unsuccessfully grapple with immigration reform, those whose immigration status is in question face the potential of deportation. Beyond permanent removal of an individual from the United States, deportation proceedings can also result in the separation of a family who has lived here for many years. By enlisting the services of an experienced immigration attorney, however, there are defenses that can be asserted against deportation.
Despite the misconceptions about immigration rights, common defenses apply to many removal cases. First, individuals who fear persecution or danger in their home country may be eligible for relief from removal through a petition for asylum, withholding or removal, or the Convention Against Torture. In addition, legal permanent residents may qualify for cancellation of removal, provided that they have (1) lived in the U.S. for 7 years prior to obtaining LPR status, (2) lived in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident for 5 years before being charged with removal, and (3) have not been convicted of an aggravated felony.
Another common deportation defense is to seek an adjustment of status which is generally available to those who are married to US citizens or other LPRs. This basically involves applying for a green card and adjusting to legal immigration status. Another form of relief which this blog recently discussed is a U-Visa (here). This type of visa provides relief to victims of serious crimes who have cooperated with law enforcement to apprehend the perpetrator.
If these defenses are not viable, the other alternatives are deferred action and voluntary departure. The former merely delays deportation, particularly for immigrant students or recent graduates, while the latter allows you to fund your return to your home country, provided that you have a valid travel document. This is preferable to being deported, especially in light of the fact that reentering the country after being deported is considered a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Finally, there are cases in which the government may exercise “prosecutorial discretion” to close or terminate removal proceedings provided that a request has been made in writing to the Department of Homeland Security.
If you or a loved one is facing deportation, you may be afraid and not know where to turn. As terrifying as the prospect of deportation is, however, it is important to stand up for your rights. Speak to an experienced immigration attorney today to learn more about how you can avoid removal from the United States.
Posted in: Immigration Law