What are the various stages of a deportation case? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration and deportation attorney practicing law here in St. Louis, Missouri. When someone is placed into removal proceedings, they’re given what’s called the Notice to Appear. A Notice to Appear is the formal charging document that’s served upon you by ICE officials, the people who are trying to seek your deportation, and the Notice to Appear will set forth all the facts and legal basis for why they believe you should be deported. Now, one thing that’s important to keep in mind is that ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will put someone into deportation proceedings even if there is a legal way for them to get out of those proceedings.
The reason they do this is because they have a quota to meet every year of people that they’re trying to deport, and they’re not going to wait for you to offer your defenses. They’re just going to set forth the reasons why you should be deported and take their shot with the immigration judge. That’s really the first stage. The first stage is at the immigration judge stage. It’s sometimes called the IJ stage or the Executive Office for Immigration Review. There’s lots of acronyms in immigration land. The EOIR is the abbreviation for the immigration court and you’re going to be going against DHS, which is the Department of Homeland Security.
DHS is going to try to set forth to the judge all the reasons why you should be deported and, after you receive the charging document, your attorney and you will be allowed the opportunity to admit or deny each of those allegations and to also set forth the reasons why you believe that you should be able to stay in the country, so if there are legal defenses or if there are remedies that are available to you like cancellation or withholding or CAP or some other mechanism whereby you should be allowed to stay in the country, above and beyond the reasons why they’re saying you should be deported and your defenses, there’s also these legal reasons why you should get to stay.
If you get approved there at the immigration judge level, then the deportation proceedings are concluded, and that’s the end of the story. If you win, then that’s what happens. If you lose, you can appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals. The Board of Immigration Appeals also takes appeals from the Department of Homeland Security, so if they feel that the immigration judge made a mistake, either side has the right to appeal to the next level, which is the Board of Immigration Appeals. That is a court located on the East Coast. The BIA in Virginia … They’re in charge of reviewing all appeals from immigration judges around the country.
The BIA is extremely overloaded. They have a lot of hard-working people there, but cases are delayed very, very long at the Board of Immigration Appeals. That’s your main shot for getting administrative review of the decision of the immigration judge to either approve or reject the reasons for your deportation, so the BIA cases take a very long time there.
That’s the second level of review and if you hear from the Board of Immigration Appeals and they’ve ruled in your favor or against you, either side, again, can appeal one more time and that would be to the Federal Circuit Court for the area in which your case was pending, so if you’re say, for instance, in St. Louis and you appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals, then your case is going to go to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. That’s one step below the US Supreme Court. Not many cases get reversed at the very Circuit Courts. It’s very hard to get relief at that stage. By that point, you’ve already had an immigration judge make factual findings.
You’ve had the Board of Immigration Appeals review it and, while we do certainly take cases to the Circuit Courts of Appeal, you have to know at the outset that those cases are very hard to win and unless you have a clean legal issue, it’s unlikely that the Circuit Courts going to get involved in the minutiae of your case and the small facts and nuances of the case, so you really want to focus all of your efforts on winning at the immigration judge level or at the Board of Immigration Appeals. One thing to also keep in mind for an immigration lawyer’s ability to help you is that sometimes you can file motions to reopen or motions to reconsider, either with the immigration judge or with the BIA.
There are strict limits on the number of those and when those have to be filed, so make sure you’re talking to a competent immigration attorney. We do not believe that anyone should go to Immigration Court or the EOIR by themselves. Certainly, you’re not going to have any success at the Board of Immigration Appeals if you’re going on your own. You need competent legal counsel. If you have any questions about the various stages of administrative proceedings and deportation, feel free to give us a call … 314-961-8200 or you can email me … Jim@HackingLawPractice.com. Thanks.