When a client calls for help with a deportation case, they usually start out knowing next to nothing about the process. It’s understandable. Most often, this happens to only one member of an immigrant family. And only one time in their lives. Below are the first steps on how to proceed.
1. Find out where your loved one is being held.
An immigration lawyer practicing deportation defense will need to know the exact whereabouts of the person. Our Firm focuses on helping individuals detained in ICE custody. If he or she has been transferred from a county jail, he will most often be taken to a processing center, like Dallas Enforcement and Removal on 8101 N. Stemmons Freeway, or Houston ERO, located on 15850 Export Plaza Drive, Houston, Texas. There the person will be issued a charging documents called a Notice to Appear. The ICE officers will also make a decision on the person’s custody status. We need to know where the person is, so that we can interview him or her. In addition, it sometimes helps to engage in early intervention. ICE has the discretion not to charge a person with removability in some circumstances. Knowing where the person is located is essential to providing the person with an aggressive defense.
2. Find out his immigration and criminal history.
To know if we can help to stop a deportation, we need to know several things about the person’s criminal and immigration background. Does he or she have lawful status? When was it acquired? What are the dates of entry and departure since his or her first arrival? What are the reasons for the person’s departure? Has he or she been arrested? For what? What was the disposition of these cases in court?
Every arrest matters. If you know the name and number of the lawyer that handled your loved one’s case(s) in criminal court, call him up and get a copy of his file.
Getting this basic information will speed up the process for finding out his options and securing him the best defense possible to deportation.
3. Make a copy of any documents provided by ICE.
Usually I can take a good guess at the charges lodged by immigration. Based on the person’s immigration and criminal history, we can often predict the reasons ICE seeks to deport him or her from the United States. Nonetheless, our Firm needs to see a copy of the Notice to Appear sooner or later. (Sooner is better.) The Notice to Appear is anywhere from 1-3 pages. It states factual allegations giving rise to the person’s removability, and the legal basis for the removing him. If you can pay your relative a visit, get the NTA, make a copy, and provide it to your immigration lawyer.
4. Tell your relative not to sign anything.
The reason not to sign anything is because he or she will almost certainly not understand its legal significance. Is he signing a stipulated order of deportation? Is he signing for voluntary departure? Or is he merely signing the bottom of the Notice to Appear to show that he received it? You don’t know, and neither does he, especially if he has trouble understanding English.
The best advice, then, is not to sign anything at all until he or she has an immigration lawyer to advise.
These are just the first steps in handling a loved one’s deportation. If your loved one has been detained by ICE — or is expected to be picked up — don’t hesitate to call The Vinesh Patel Law Firm, PLLC. It’s our goal to provide the strongest defense to deportation that the law permits.
This post is also available in: Spanish