O'Grady Law Office, P.C., represents clients throughout the Chicago area who are facing deportation. If you would like to discuss your options with a lawyer or if you want to schedule a free phone consultation, please contact us online.Detention and Deportation/Removal Proceedings
If you are an immigrant with a criminal record, your immigration status can be at risk, even if your record includes only a minor crime. Some criminal convictions can result in deportation, and thus bar you from ever returning to the United States.
There are some ways to fight deportation caused by a criminal conviction on your record. However, once you have been placed in detention or deportation proceedings, you cannot handle the case by yourself. You will need an experienced immigration attorney to get you out of detention on bond, and to handle your case in immigration court.I was Detained by ICE. Can I get Released on Bond?
Possibly. After you are detained by ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement), ICE may or may not set a bond amount for your release. Then, there will be a bond hearing in immigration court, where you may ask the judge to lower your bond amount (or to set a bond amount if ICE has refused to set one). The judge will determine whether you are eligible to be released on bond while your underlying deportation case is in process, and whether to lower the bond amount set by ICE. The purpose of paying a bond is to ensure that the immigrant will not flee the area and will return for your scheduled hearing date on the underlying deportation case. However, some immigrants will not be eligible for bond, or they may not be able to afford to pay the bond. If that happens, the immigrant could be detained the entire period it takes for the court to hear the immigrant's underlying deportation case. This may be a long period of time, depending on the court's docket backlog of cases.
In determining whether to release an immigrant on bond, the immigration judge must conclude that releasing them would not pose a danger to another person or property and that they are likely to appear at your future hearings. The judge reviews factors such as family and community ties, your arrest and conviction record, your track record for appearing at past court hearings; how you entered the U.S. and the length of time you have lived in the U.S.; whether you have committed immoral acts or are suspected of terrorist activities; and finally, your financial means available to actually pay the bond.
NOTE: Immigrants detained or arrested because of serious criminal convictions or suspected terrorist activities are generally not eligible to be released on bond.How can I Fight Deportation? Deportation Defense Options
If you or a loved one faces deportation, there are a variety of legal options that may be available to you. To determine which option is available to you, talk to an experienced immigration lawyer. Depending on your situation, you may be able to fight deportation through one of the following options:
- Cancellation of removal: This is a specific form of relief that is only available once an immigrant has been summoned to immigration court. An immigrant applying for this form of relief is asking the judge to have his deportation canceled and to be granted lawful permanent resident status. To be eligible for this form of relief, the applicant must show that he:
- Has been physically present in the U.S. for at least 10 years before he was summoned to immigration court.
- Has good moral character (meaning little or no criminal history), and that he has paid his taxes and child support.
- Noncriminal waivers: An immigrant may need a waiver of other noncriminal "bad acts" they have committed, such as lying to obtain an immigration benefit, using fraudulent documents to enter the U.S. (including using another person's passport) or assisting another immigrant to illegally cross the border into the U.S. These types of acts indicate a lack of good moral character, and immigrants who have committed these types of acts will need a waiver in order to obtain a given benefit.
- Applications for permanent residency/adjustment of status: Occasionally, an immigrant who has been placed in removal proceedings will be eligible to apply for permanent residency status through an "adjustment of status" while their underlying case is pending in immigration court. Usually, the application for permanent residency ("adjustment of status") is based on a family-based petition.
- Asylum, withholding of removal and relief under the Convention Against Torture: An immigrant who is present in the U.S., and who is unwilling or unable to return to their home country because of past persecution in their home country, or a fear of future persecution if they return to their home country, may be eligible for asylum, withholding of removal or relief under the Convention Against Torture. Applicants must show that the harm they suffered in their home country or fear that they will suffer if they return to their home country, and that persecution is due to their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
- Motions for administrative closure-based eligibility for a provisional waiver: An immigration court judge may agree to close immigration court proceedings for an immigrant who is either married to a U.S. citizen or has a U.S. citizen parent, while the immigrant files a provisional waiver application. If the provisional waiver is approved, then the immigrant must return to immigration court and ask the judge to order a grant of voluntary departure, which would allow the immigrant to go back to his home country and apply for an immigrant visa at the U.S. embassy in his country, and then return to the U.S. as a permanent resident.
- U visas: Some immigrants who are victims of crimes and who helped law enforcement to investigate and solve those crimes may apply for U visa status. While the U visa application is pending, the applicant will be eligible for a work authorization card. If the U visa is approved, then removal proceedings can be terminated.
- DACA: If you were brought into the U.S. as a child, and you attended school in the U.S., you may be eligible for deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), which is President Obama's program for immigrant children or (often referred to as "Dreamers"). A grant of DACA status will terminate or defer deportation proceedings for undocumented youths who are not considered a danger to the community and who meet other eligibility requirements.
- Prosecutorial discretion: In some circumstances, the government attorney may exercise prosecutorial discretion and close or terminate deportation proceedings against an immigrant. To obtain this form of relief, a written request for prosecutorial discretion must be submitted to Office of the Chief Counsel for the Department of Homeland Security
- Voluntary departure: If there are no other deportation defense options available, or if a person is eligible to return to his home country and obtain a visa to return to the U.S., he may want to request voluntary departure instead of being ordered removed or deported, in order to avoid the harsh penalties associated with a removal order (or deportation order). Voluntary departure is not usually desired by immigrants in removal proceedings, but sometimes it may be the best and only option available.