Immigrants are often their own worst enemy.
Many, trapped in immigration court proceedings, are not aware of the difficulties ahead. As a result, they fail to appreciate how deportation lawyers are crucial to their success.
On the other hand, immigration defense attorneys know protecting immigrants is one of the hardest jobs today.
Each year, deportation defense becomes tougher. More and more rigid laws are passed – increasing the difficulty of winning deportation and removal cases, especially for undocumented immigrants.
Here are four things to think about before you try to defend yourself at immigration court hearings and trials.
Do Not Blindly Trust The News
Too many news stories present a different picture. Many people, who watch the news on immigration, believe that deporting individuals is almost impossible. This view is far from the truth. If you’re an undocumented immigrant, do not fall into the trap of thinking that getting a green card is easy.
The reality is that once an immigrant is sent to Immigration Court, the odds of winning are far less than 50-50.
Rules are not only stiffer . . . procedures are tighter . . . and judges are stricter than ever before. Still, nearly 150,000 immigrants without any legal documents try to handle their deportation and removal cases without an immigration deportation defense trial attorney. This is an open invitation for tragedy.
Immigration Success Is Complicated
Some immigrants without papers believe that because a friend has won his deportation case, they will experience the same outcome.
They do not stop and consider that major differences may exist between the two matters. Sometimes, the advice comes from a person who already had earned a green card but was on the verge of losing it.
Moreover, even when immigrants have good cases, there are no guarantees.
Victory is a privilege, not a right.
Immigration judges can think that (1) you are a person with good moral character, (2) you have been 100% honest in your testimony, and (3) your life will be disrupted if you are deported – and yet, still decide that you do not meet the requirements to remain in the United States.
For immigrants who do not have valid documents, the situation is harsher.
They are sometimes left with only one possible defense against deportation.
This is called cancellation of removal. They must prove:
- 10 years of continuous physical presence in the U.S.
- Good moral character during the ten years
- No convictions which disqualify them from immigration benefits
- Exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to a qualifying relative
(Qualifying relatives are your husband, wife, parents, or children who are either U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents already)
By far, the requirement normally most difficult to demonstrate is hardship.
Preparing Evidence Requires Hard Work
There are two roads to proving hardship.
The difference between the roads: where your family members plan to live if you are removed. As your immigration lawyer should explain, you must carefully think about these options before you testify at your deportation defense hearing.
If you take the first road, your family members will leave the U.S. with you.
If you take the second road, they will stay here even after you are sent back to your home country.
This is a very important decision. What happens if you are deported will affect your life and your family’s life forever. And what happens if you are deported is what the judge needs to know, absolutely know, in great detail, at your trial.
Some foreign-born immigrants, however, think that hardship is a cut-and-dried issue. They’re wrong. There is no generic formula for immigrant hardship evidence.
As a result, the road you and your family choose is important for another reason. It determines how your immigration attorney will present your case.
If you take the first road, your immigration lawyer has to show how moving to your home country will harm your wife and children. If you take the second road, your immigration attorney has to show how your family will suffer without your day-to-day support and love.
An Ordinary Hardship Is Not Enough
Both types of deportation defense cases take a lot of preparation. There are many, many things to talk about in court. A lot of evidence is needed to support your cancellation of removal hardship claims.
Here’s a video on cancellation of removal for undocumented immigrants.
The right amount of hardship is incredibly difficult to prove.
Almost all immigrant families will suffer some hardship if a family member is deported. Judges tell many immigrants that they have shown some hardship – but they have only shown ordinary hardship. Ordinary hardship is not enough to win. You must demonstrate exceptional and extremely unusual hardship.
You face removal back to your home country if you lose your case. With the stakes so high, deportation defense is not something to try on your own. Most people cannot put their hardship evidence together without the help of a skilled immigration trial attorney.
If keeping your family together in the United States is your goal, don’t be your worst enemy. Think carefully about whether an immigration attorney is vital to your defense.
Then make your choice to fight deportation alone or with an immigration lawyer at your side.