Removal proceedings (previously known as “deportation” or “exclusion” proceedings) are a civil court process to decide whether the government can remove a noncitizen can be deported from the United States, and whether she is eligible to remain in the US. This is most common for people who are out of status (undocumented), but it the government can also attempt to remove people who have violated or overstayed their visa. Permanent residents (green card holders) can also be subject to removal proceedings in certain situations, for example, if they are convicted of certain crimes, if they are accused of obtaining their green card by fraud or mistake, or if they abandon their permanent resident status.
The judge in removal proceedings is an employee of the Department of Justice. The Department of Homeland Security serves as the prosecutor, represented by an attorney who is an employee of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). There is always an ICE attorney in removal proceedings, who usually offers evidence and arguments to convince the judge that the person should be deported and their defenses denied.
Removal proceedings usually start with a “master calendar hearing,” where the ICE attorney makes an accusation for why the noncitizen can legally be deported. Sometimes a defense attorney can win the case at this stage, by forcing the government to prove its case. Otherwise, to avoid deportation, the noncitizen will have to defend their case by presenting evidence and testimony at an “individual hearing,” or trial. Common defenses include asylum, cancellation of removal for non-permanent residents and permanent residents, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, protections under the Violence Against Women Act, and adjustment of status. Less common defenses for permanent residents include 237(a)(1)(H) waivers for fraud and misrepresentation, standalone 212(h) waivers for criminal convictions, and 212(c) waivers for certain older criminal convictions.
Our attorneys regularly represent clients before the Memphis Immigration Court, which includes noncitizens who live in all of Tennessee, Arkansas, and Kentucky, as well as northern Mississippi. We may also available to travel to other Courts across the country, and we can assist with Motions to Change Venue if your case is currently set elsewhere and you wish to have it heard in Memphis.
We do not currently represent detained clients in bond hearings. If you live in our area but are detained, we can refer you to excellent colleagues who practice in the detained courts and who can visit you in detention. Once you are released and your case transfers back to Memphis, we are happy to consult with you about your next steps and representing you in Memphis.
For more information about specific defenses in immigration court, click the links in the side navigation bar to the left of this page.
Attorney Lily S. Axelrod posts information about removal proceedings on her Facebook page in English and Spanish:
- What happens when ICE detains someone in the Memphis area? https://www.facebook.com/lilysaxelrod/photos/a.1650077361699231/1729404263766540/?type=1&theater
- Video: Redadas de inmigracion (immigration raids): https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=443458796205924
- Video: finanzas de inmigracion (immiration bonds) https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=1732398946800405