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Key factors to know about the deportation process

If you're an immigrant who has come to Georgia to live or work, you may worry about various legal status issues that could affect your ability to remain in the United States or earn a living while you're here. Whether you are here on a visa or are seeking naturalization for citizenship, many types of legal problems can arise that can throw your plans off track.

Words like removal or deportation may cause you to feel afraid or stressed. That's understandable, considering the great number of stories in the recent past that involve Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers placing immigrants in handcuffs and taking them into custody as tearful loved ones who feel helpless, look on. The more you understand about deportation, the better able you may be to protect your rights, especially if you wind up in detention.

Rules regarding removal

Immigration officials must adhere to strict protocol and regulations that govern their actions when taking an immigrant into custody. The following list provides basic information about the deportation process:

  • The United States government can't simply kick you out of the country without valid cause.
  • If officials have called your legal status into question, you may have to stay in detention until the immigration court fully adjudicates your case.
  • If the immigration judge overseeing your case orders your removal, the country to which you are to return must agree to receive you.
  • You may have the option to choose voluntary departure to avoid deportation proceedings.
  • You may file a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security if you believe someone has violated your civil rights.
  • If you're undocumented, you may be able to adjust your status under certain circumstances to avoid deportation.
  • If you sought asylum at a U.S. border, you might have to enter detention while the government processes your case.
  • Immigration officials determine whether your situation merits an immigration hearing or you are eligible for immediate deportation.
  • In some situations, the government may decide to release you from detention while they process your case.

If ICE determines that it's crucial for you to stay in the United States, it can order a stay on your removal. For instance, if you are a parent supporting a minor who is a U.S. citizen or if you have a serious medical condition, these may serve as just causes to issue a removal stay.

Tapping into support resources

If you have friends or family members who navigated the immigration process before you, it can be quite helpful to learn from their advice. Then again, you might have been living in Georgia for 10 years or more when a sudden status problem arises. In any case, it often pays to know where to seek legal support.

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