Some say that which is feared the most often never occurs. If you're an undocumented immigrant living in Kentucky, you may hope this old adage proves true. It's difficult not to live in fear, however, when no matter where you go or what you do, you carry with you the knowledge that your legal papers for residence in the United States are not in good standing. Even if you have a decent-paying job and obey state laws, you can still run into legal trouble.
Let's say a police officer pulls you over on allegations that you were driving over the posted speed limit. The next thing you know, you are handed over to immigration officials who inform you of their intentions to place you under detainment as they launch a removal process investigation. If you are somewhat familiar with the process ahead of time, you may not only alleviate your own fears but may be able to reach out for support to avoid deportation as well.
Your arrest activates the process
As soon as police take you into custody, as an undocumented immigrant, you will likely find yourself in the first stages of the removal process. The list below includes basic facts regarding U.S. immigration law and how the removal process typically unfolds:
- Arrest and transfer: Whether local police charge you with a minor crime or something far more serious, either way, if you are living in the United States illegally, the next step will probably include a transfer to an immigration detention center.
- ICE officials: Those who take you into custody might not even be uniformed police officers. You could be in the middle of carrying out your workplace duties and ICE officials may show up to place you under arrest.
- Expired papers: If you are not exactly an undocumented immigrant, but your papers are expired, you may be subject to the same removal process as those who crossed the nation's borders without appropriate permission.
- Notice to appear: Otherwise known as an NTA, if an immigration official serves you with these papers, the court is already processing your removal. The next step would include a hearing in immigration court.
- Voluntary departure: Some people in similar past situations opted to leave the United States voluntarily. If you choose to do so, it may lead to future permission to legally return to the U.S. at a later point in time.
There are usually several types of hearings associated with the removal process. You are also able to appeal the court's decision if it is not in your favor. It can be a frightening and unnerving experience trying to stop the deportation process on your own. That's why many Kentucky residents who have similar statuses ask experienced representatives to advocate on their behalves in court.