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Immigration Watch 2019 | President Trump delays threat of “Mass Deportations.” What does this mean? Who should be worried?

Immigration Watch 2019 | President Trump delays threat of “Mass Deportations.” What does this mean? Who should be worried?

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This week, President Trump announced that he would delay the threat to carry out large scale “mass deportation” efforts of persons in the United States without legal status.  The President stated that the delay is meant to give Congress an opportunity to find a legislative solution to the illegal immigration problem. Assuming Congress cannot pass a law that the President is willing to sign, what does “mass deportation” mean for those individuals living in the United States without lawful status? Who will the administration target? What can you do to protect yourself? 

Before you panic, let’s take a look at what the Trump administration can actually do in an effort to carry out this threat. I will then explain what you can do to protect yourself from deportation in the event that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (ICE), comes knocking on your door.

First, the good news:

  • ICE does not have the resources to round up people by the thousands and physically deport them. As it stands, immigration detention facilities are already over-capacity and would need Congress to approve more funding to open additional facilities before ICE can think about carrying out this threat. Even if ICE Could detain and deport individuals without a court hearing, (more on that below), they still need to be able to hold individuals for a few days or a few weeks to verify identification, obtain travel documents and eventually arrange transportation to deport detained persons. It is not as simple as the current administration would like us to believe.

  • Even undocumented persons have rights! The mere fact that you are in the U.S. illegally does not mean that ICE can just deport you, you have a right to see a judge and apply for relief from removal (aka proof that you have a path to legal status). If you are arrested by ICE inside the United States, (and not at or near the border), then you are entitled to full removal proceedings. The U.S. government CANNOT deport you before a judge orders you removed. Even if you are caught at or near the border, you still have a right to at least an expedited removal hearing in most circumstances, which is also in front of a judge. The difference is the type of relief from removal that you can apply for is limited.

  • The Trump administration mentioned that they will focus on individuals who have already been order removed (aka deported) by a judge but failed to actually leave the country. If you fall into this category, you still have rights! There may be grounds to reopen your removal proceedings and if you timely file a stay of removal, ICE will not be able to deport you while you wait for a decision on your motion (more on that below).

Next, a little bad news:

  • If you are caught up in an ICE raid and arrested, especially if you have an outstanding order of removal, you may not be entitled to a bond hearing, meaning you will be detained while you wait for a judge to decide if you can remain in the country.

  • If you have an outstanding order of removal and wait to see if anything can be done to reopen or appeal your case until ICE comes and arrests you, ICE can act so fast that you do not have time to file any stays of removal or applications that would force ICE to hold off from physically removing you from the country.

  • It is always harder to fight your case when you are detained, even if ICE is in the wrong. Time is not on your side in this case, especially when you do not have your entire immigration file already. It can take months to obtain this file through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

So what can you do to protect yourself if you are in the United States illegally?

  • Contact an experienced immigration attorney IMMEDIATELY to find out if there is a way to keep you here. There is no substitute for a legal consult with an experienced immigration attorney. Regardless of your situation, we will be able to analyze your case and identity any and all paths to legal status available to you.

  • The key is to act before ICE detains you for two main reasons: (1) if you are detained it is harder to communicate with your lawyer and family members who can help you obtain favorable evidence and build your case, and (2) you increase your chances of convincing a judge to release you from detention while you wait for your relief form removal to be adjudicated.

If you have an order of removal or are in the country illegally, contact us today to find out what we can do to help. I guarantee if there is a way to protect you from deportation, we will know!

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