The Board of Immigration Appeals recently reversed an order of removal after finding that the immigration judge below failed to provide an immigrant in deportation proceedings with enough time to find competent immigration counsel. In the case of Hervens Timothe, the immigrant told the Immigration Judge at his second master calendar hearing that an organization was working with him to represent him in his removal proceedings and asked that his case be reset at a later date.
The IJ refused to continue the case and proceeded with the removal hearing. The IJ did not explain on the record why the continuance was not granted.
The BIA sent the case back to the IJ for two reasons. First, the Board wanted to provide the immigrant respondent with another opportunity to hire an attorney to represent him. Second, the Board wanted to allow the immigrant to explore possible avenues of relief from deportation.
Assuming immigrant respondents (and immigration judges) become aware of this decision, it may help certain immigrants obtain additional time to find an attorney. And as we often point out, sometimes the difference between getting deported and staying in the U.S. is whether or not the respondent has hired a competent immigration attorney who knows what he or she is doing.