No matter the circumstances that placed you at risk for removal, you are likely afraid and confused. Deportation may mean leaving behind loved ones, perhaps even your own children, and returning to a country you may not have seen for many years. In recent months, those who once felt safe from removal now live in fear, and those who lived in fear may now be in trouble.
The immigration courts are very different from civil or criminal courts in Kentucky and across the country. You would be wise to learn as much as possible about the removal process and your options for defense against the charges that brought you to this dangerous situation.
Understanding the politics of removal procedures
Judges who hear immigration cases are not part of the judicial court system in the U.S. The Attorney General, whom the president appoints, oversees the Department of Justice where immigration courts operate. Because of this, there is no guarantee that the judge hearing your case will not have some political leanings. Nevertheless, you may not come before a judge for years because of the tremendous backlog of removal cases. Meanwhile, you can expect the following during the removal process:
- Your trial may proceed similarly to a criminal trial, but you will not have the same constitutional rights.
- If you are facing deportation because of a criminal conviction, even a minor offense, authorities will likely detain you until your trial, which may be many months or even years.
- Immigration courts will not appoint an attorney to defend you, but you may obtain defense counsel on your own.
- Without legal advice, you may not understand the charges or how to challenge them, and the court has no obligation to explain your rights to you.
- If the court decides to deport you, you may appeal.
- Most often, the appeals board will simply uphold the decision to deport without offering an explanation.
- Only 8 percent of appeals end with the reversal of removal orders.
Facing a deportation trial is not something you want to do alone. There are many complex and confusing stumbling blocks that could result in years of separation from your family, loss of all you have achieved in this country, and returning to a place that is no longer familiar or safe. Reaching out to an attorney with experience in removal and other immigration matters may provide an advantage to you.