Once an individual is in the custody of Immigration and Custom Enforcement, commonly known as ICE, they do not know what to do. Although ICE has rules and regulations to monitor their procedures, there are stories of ICE officers unduly pressuring individuals to sign their departure from the United States. This article will outline the benefits of appearing before the Immigration Judge rather than signing your departure and how a protection letter may ensure you get your day before the Judge. This may save your life because, as everyone knows, you will leave your children, spouse, and a job behind. Above all, it may save you from returning to a violent environment in your homeland.
Many of the people that walk through our doors often share their experiences where ICE agents allegedly intimidated them into signing their departure before ever given the opportunity of consulting an attorney. It is not hard to imagine that some of these people have possible claims of relief but are never given the opportunity to seek the advice of an attorney to determine whether they qualify for relief. This relief may be a petition by a qualified relative who is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident. Often, the individual has rights to get his green card due to an old family petition but the individual has been misinformed and believes he lost those rights. And the list goes on.
As well-versed an ICE official may be about deportation or removal, he is not trained in all phases of immigration law. A protection letter from a competent immigration attorney can be of tremendous help in defining applicable law. In addition, the letter is a document an individual can present to ICE officers or local officers.
There are several key components to the protection letter. One is the language indicating the method of obtaining a green card. This is helpful in situations where local enforcement stops you. In their discretion, they may release you knowing you are in the process of getting the card. What is most important however, is the language used to ensure that ICE officers know you are not going to sign anything without consulting your attorney.
Ensuring your day before an Immigration Judge allows you to consult a competent attorney in order to pursue your eligibility for relief. Without this, you may never be sure if you signed your departure prematurely. It is best you know your rights and when you do not, the letter of protection can state them for you.
(Contributing Writer: Susana Reyes)