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The term "removal proceedings" refers to the legal procedure by which the United States government seeks to remove a non-U.S. citizen from the United States.  Proceedings are ititiated when Immigration and Customs Enforcement believes that a foreign national is not entitled to remain in the United States.  This week's blog summarizes how these legal proceedings are conducted. 


Generally, removal proceedings begin when Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as "ICE"  (an agency of the Department of Homeland Security), files a Notice to Appear with the clerk of the Immigration Court (an agency of the Department of Justice).  The foreign national then receives a copy of the Notice to Appear and is informed of a specific date and location of a hearing in the Immigration Court.  


Under some circumstances, ICE believes that a foreign national should be held in a detention center while the removal proceedings are pending.  There are various legal reasons why detention is mandatory, such as a prior commission of an aggravated felony, or status as an "arriving alien".   The foreign national may request a bond hearing to request that the Immigration Judge consider whether he/she is legally eligible for bond, and if so, whether the Judge in his/her discretion should grant a bond and order the release of the individual upon posting of the required bond.


When the foreign national first appears in the Immigration Court, the Judge conducts a "master calender" hearing.  The purpose of this hearing is to accept the pleadings to the factual allegations and legal charges.  The Judge will consider legal arguments pertaining to the allegations, and will also handle other procedural matters, such as the need for an interpreter in the invidual's native language, the timing of future hearings, and the availabililty of relief from removal.  If the individual is not removable, the proceedings are terminated.  If the individual is removable but is eligible for relief from removal, the Judge sets deadlines for filing relief applications and schedules the individual hearing.


After allowing time for the individual to file appropriate relief applications and meet other filing deadlines, such as submitting witness lists, the Court conducts an individual hearing.  At this hearing, the attorneys for the foreign national and for the government are permitted to provide evidence pertaining to the relief application.  At the conclusion of the evidence, the Court issues a ruling, either granting or denying the relief sought. 

If you are in removal proceedings, you should not go through the process without an experienced attorney.  Individuals need an attorney that understands the complexities of immigration law and can advocate for the individual.  Christiansen Law Firm partners with foreign nationals who are involved in removal proceedings.  The attorneys at Christiansen Law Firm have extensive experience  in removal proceedings, and can ensure that you maximize your potential for avoiding removal.  Contact the offices of Christiansen Law Firm in Houston or San Antonio to schedule a free consultation.

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