Please Note: This article was published in 2015 and does not contain current information.
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Whether you have permanent resident status, have lawful nonimmigrant status, or whether you are presently in the United States without legal status, you face the possibility of deportation in certain circumstances.
All non U.S. citizens face the possibility of being placed in removal proceedings if they commit a serious crime, or a series of certain types of crimes. Certain crimes may appear minor in nature, but can have serious immigration consequences.
Additionally, if you have no status and are inside the United States, then the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) may detain you at any time and will generally initiate removal proceedings against you.
The following is a guide for your consideration in the event that DHS detains you.
Step 1: Stay Calm.
Whatever the circumstances may be, if DHS detains you, you must stay calm. You must not speak to the DHS officers about any criminal offense you may have committed nor discuss any issues related to your immigration status. You must simply indicate that you want to speak to your immigration attorney or that you want to see an immigration judge. You must also remember NOT to sign any document without having your attorney review it.
Step 2: Retain Counsel.
If you are detained, you must coordinate with your family so they may retain a lawyer on your behalf. It is critical that your family search for an immigration lawyer experienced in representing clients in removal proceedings.
Step 3: Request Bond.
If you hired an immigration lawyer, then the lawyer will request bond for you. Not everyone is eligible for release on bond. This will depend on the nature of the crime you committed, or whether you have an existing deportation order. If you are bond eligible, then your family should immediately pay the bond. If you cannot pay the bond, your immigration lawyer may request the Immigration Court to lower your bond amount. If you are not bond eligible, then you must wait in the detention center until your case is finalized in Immigration Court.
Step 4: Meet with Counsel.
If you are released on bond, you will need to meet with your immigration lawyer immediately so that the two of you can develop a strategy that meets your needs. If you are not released on bond, then you will need to discuss your case with your immigration lawyer over the phone. Your lawyer can coordinate a telephonic consultation even if you are detained.
Step 5: Follow Your Counsel’s Advice.
Being placed in removal proceedings is a frustrating and overwhelming affair, especially if you are not bond eligible. You must be patient. Trust your lawyer to work on your behalf. With your cooperation, your lawyer will help you achieve the best and most realistic results possible.
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