I was ordered deported and nobody told me I could have an attorney!
Question: I was just in immigration court and was ordered deported. I had no idea what was happening and was confused. I had no attorney and the immigration judge never informed me if I could get an attorney. What can I do?
Answer: In actuality, you have a right to have an attorney at your own expense. In fact, there was a case that just came out at the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) whereby the Immigration Judge did not inform the person in deportation proceedings that he has such a right. Thus, the Board of Immigration Appeals reversed the decision and sent it back down to the Immigration Court.
In any removal proceedings before an immigration judge and in any appeal proceedings before the Attorney General from any such removal proceedings, the person concerned shall have the privilege of being represented (at no expense to the Government) by such counsel, authorized to practice in such proceedings, as he shall choose.
This case at the Board of Immigration Appeals makes it critically clear of the importance of having an immigration attorney present with you at all times. The immigration attorney will protect you and do things in your best interest. The Immigration Judge and the Trial Attorney for the Government are not your friends. You’re just another number on their docket. If they can get you off their docket, then their jobs became easier. However, you have a right to have an attorney and to be told that you have that right. Your life can change for the worse if you are deported or do not apply for the proper relief, or do not properly present the evidence or do not make a record for appeal in case the Immigration Judge denies your case.
Question: I’m in Montana and you are in California. Do you know any immigration lawyers in my area of the United States?
Answer: Immigration Law is federal law, and therefore, it is not necessary to get an immigration attorney who might not be experienced only because he or she is local. My practice has clients all over the United States and can protect persons anywhere in immigration court proceedings. In fact, I do different telephonic hearings from all corners of the United States in order to help people in detention and in removal proceedings.
Question: What if I cannot pay for the attorney?
Answer: You can ask friends, try to work out payment plans with the attorney or a variety of other options. There are also pro bono or low cost immigration attorneys which should have been given to you via a packet of information at the beginning of the process. However, this is not just a breach of contract or money issue. It is your life and that of your family. You do not want an attorney who only gives you half attention, or is not an expert in immigration law. If there was ever a time to make certain you properly did what you had to do in order to protect yourself and have a reasonable chance of winning, it would be when you are in immigration court.
Do your best to get legal counsel and do not represent yourself. There is too much at stake.