Am I always entitled to a removal hearing?

by Blake P. Somers, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

The short answer to this question is “no.”  Generally, people are entitled to a degree of due process which includes having their removal proceedings be held before an immigration judge.  However, there are numerous exceptions to this general rule. For example, if an individual is already physically present in the United States, but has already committed a very serious crime called an “aggravated felony” they are afforded very little due process at all. They are given an “Administrative Order of Removal,” which is basically a letter stating that they will be deported from the United States after the conclusion of the prison sentence they may be serving. While there are a variety of challenges an individual can make after they have been served with such an order, an individual in this situation has very little protection.

People receive even less “process” when they first arrive in the United States at a port of entry. This is an extremely complicated area of the law, but, the easiest way to think of it is that the rules basically do not apply the same in the United States as they do at the port of entry (including all land, sea, and airports).

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