How do deportation proceedings work?

by Blake P. Somers, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

As with any other areas of immigration law, there are a number of exceptions to every rule. However, immigration removal proceedings are generally conducted as follows:

When it is discovered by the government that an individual in the United States may be without proper immigration status, generally the government chooses to commence an administrative proceeding against the individual called a “removal proceeding,” which seeks to obtain an order of deportation and physically remove the individual from the United States. In these proceedings, the government is represented by an attorney who is employed by the Department of Homeland Security. A non-citizen may also be represented in these proceedings, however, there are no “public defenders” in immigration cases—all individuals must obtain their own counsel at their own expense. The hearing is then conducted in front of an Immigration Judge. Immigration Judges are appointed under the administrative branch of the government, rather than the usual judicial branch of the government, although they exercise all functions of the traditional court.

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