You’re in trouble. You’re under threat of the government deporting you, and you are trying to create a solid deportation defense. Whatever your circumstances, relying on the impartiality of the judge is not enough. While he won’t automatically side with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), he also isn’t obligated to think up your legal arguments for you.
In a court slammed with cases, it’s unlikely he’ll even have time for a short interview before proceedings start. And saying, “I have a family here, and I’m a very hard worker,” is not a legal reason for leniency or case dismissal.
This is precisely why you need a lawyer for deportation defense. However, the U.S. government does not provide free legal representation to immigrants. You are responsible for hiring your own attorney. While the cost may seem prohibitive, a qualified lawyer is your absolute best chance for a positive outcome.
Preparing a Deportation Defense
Before the hearing, your attorney will evaluate the DHS case against you, and determine if the charges are correct. They’ll also identify any special circumstances that might help your defense. Because immigration laws are complex, there’s a good chance these nuances and loopholes aren’t easy for you to spot on your own. And a good attorney might be able to successfully argue one of the following:
- The charges brought against you are false (i.e. your crime doesn’t meet the grounds for deportation)
- Prove citizenship through a relative (if applicable)
- Argue you qualify for asylum, because returning home would leave you defenseless against persecution
- Request a green card based on your relationship to a U.S. citizen
- Help you file for cancellation of removal based on your moral character and close ties
- Request discretion based on your good standing in the community and strong moral character
While you might see one of these that immediately applies to you, an attorney can help you file the paperwork correctly, draft legal briefs, and prepare you and others for any testimony required by the court.
Appealing the Court’s Decision Regarding Your Deportation
Even if the judge doesn’t favor you in the first judgement, having a case record filled with solid information and a strong legal defense makes the chances of an appeal much stronger. This is really your one and only chance to present the court with your legal arguments and testimony. Appeals do not allow for a re-trial. They only focus on the case presented originally, and whether the immigration judge that oversaw those proceedings made the correct decision given the information presented to him or her at that time. So if your case documentation, files, briefs or other legal documents are incorrect or incomplete, you won’t get a second chance to try again.