How Long is the Deportation Process in California?

“Deportation” is a scary word, especially if it appears on a letter from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You might imagine that, in a matter of days, you will be escorted in handcuffs to an airport and be forced to leave the country that has become your home and go to one that you left for good reason. In most cases, though, removal proceedings are a long legal process where you have plenty of time to straighten out your situation so that you can remain in the United States legally. Most deportation cases in California take between two and three years before the court issues a final decision. Foreigners eligible for deportation have legal rights, including the right to present their side of the story to the court, with the help of a foreign language interpreter if necessary, and to hire a lawyer. A Whittier immigration lawyer can help you buy time and eventually remain in the United States indefinitely.

Mandatory Deportation or Discretionary?

Mandatory discretion applies when a non-citizen is convicted of a deportable offense or completes a prison sentence for a deportable offense. It also applies when an immigrant has no legal immigration status; asylum cases end either with mandatory deportation or with the immigrant receiving asylum status.  In all other cases, deportation is discretionary, which means that the immigration judge can decide whether to deport you or let you stay.

Expedited Deportation or Full Removal Proceedings?

The deportation process varies according to whether the foreigner is subject to expedited deportation or the full legal process of removal.  In cases of expedited deportation, the immigrant can be deported immediately. Expedited deportation only applies to foreign nationals who have been in the United States for a short time or are unable to provide documentation showing that they have been here for at least two years. In practice, most expedited deportation cases involve people arrested at or near the U.S. border and who have been in the United States for less than two weeks.  Everyone else has the right to the full legal process.

How an Immigration Lawyer Can Help if You are in Danger of Deportation

In immigration cases, you have the right to hire a lawyer, but paying the lawyer is your responsibility. (The court does provide interpreters free of charge, upon request, to immigrants with limited English language proficiency.) Many organizations offer free or low-cost services to immigrants at risk of deportation. An immigration lawyer can represent you in immigration court and present arguments and documents to persuade the court to grant you eligibility for legal immigration status. Your lawyer might even be able to negotiate with the Department of Homeland Security so that DHS agrees not to pursue your case, making you immediately eligible to remain in the United States legally.

Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum Avoiding Deportation

An immigration attorney can help you remain in the United States legally if you are at risk of deportation. Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates APLC in Whittier, California, to set up a consultation