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Deportation Defense/Removal

Deportation & Removal Defense

The deportation attorneys at Benavides and Serrano understand how deportation and removal is an important part of Immigration Law.  This area comes up when the United States government tries to deport an individual from the country for a variety of different reasons. A deportation attorney for Deportation Defense is essential to individuals faced with possible removal from the country. The deportation lawyers at Benavides & Serrano are dedicated to defending individuals who are faced with possible deportation and separation from their loved ones. It is important that you come in for a consultation today.

Deportation not only affects the people being removed from the country, but also the families left behind.  Our number one priority is to find a way to keep our clients in the United States and with their families.

An individual may encounter the removal process because of prior criminal history or because of his or her illegal presence in the United States in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Regardless of the basis for the removal proceedings, there are various forms of relief which should be analyzed to determine which form of relief is appropriate.  Because every case is unique and has particular circumstances a cookie-cutter approach to defend against a potential removal will not suffice. Ineffective assistance of counsel or self-help should not be an option. Rather, an experienced immigration attorney should be retained expeditiously to develop a plan of action that will allow the individual to remain in the United States.

There are many different forms of relief available to individuals faced with possible deportation.  Here are a few of the possibilities.  For a more thorough examination of your case, please call us at 713-222-2828 for a consultation.

Cancellation of Removal for a Permanent Resident

Cancellation of Removal for a Permanent Resident is exactly what is sounds like.  It cancels the removal (deportation) of the green card holder who is in trouble.  Section 240A(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act gives an Immigration Judge the power to cancel the deportation of permanent resident from the United States of America if that person can show the following:

  1. They have been a Legal Permanent Resident for a MINIMUM of 5 years
  2. They have continuously resided in the United States for a MINIMUM of 7 years AFTER being admitted to the United States in any status
  3. They have not been convicted of a crime which is considered to be an aggravated felony
  4. They are not inadmissible from the United States for security reasons

Meeting these requirements are just the beginning of a Cancellation of Removal for a Permanent Resident case.  The Immigration Judge will typically look at the entire picture when deciding whether or not to grant this special relief.  Some positive factors are:

  • Family Ties in the United States
  • Length of time that person has lived in the United Stated
  • Hardship to the person being deported
  • Hardship to the immediate family of the person being deported
  • Service in the armed forces of the United States
  • A history of employment and proof of paid taxes
  • Ownership of businesses in the United States and other business ties
  • Service given to the community
  • Good moral character
  • Proof of rehabilitation if the person has a criminal record, and good moral character is in question

Some negative factors are:

  • A bad criminal record
  • Proof of bad moral character
  • Previous problems with Immigration

This is a very complex form of Immigration relief which takes place in front of an Immigration Judge, and is generally opposed by the attorney representing the government.  If granted, cancellation of removal for a permanent resident results in an individual getting their green card back and being free to return home.  It is very important to consult with an immigration lawyer who has experience dealing with these types of cases.

At Benavides & Serrano, PLLC our immigration lawyers will work with you to gather the materials and evidence necessary for a successful cancellation of removal for permanent residents claim. Our deportation attorneys offer consultations to all our clients.

Cancellation of Removal for Non-Permanent Residents

Section 240A(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act gives an Immigration Judge the power to cancel the deportation of a non-permanent resident from the United States of America if that person can show the following:

  1. They have been physically present in the United Stated for a CONTINUOUS period of 10 years prior to the institution of removal proceedings.  Continuous means that the person cannot be out of the United States for more than 90 days at a time, or 180 days total during that 10 year period.  One exception to the 10 year period is individuals who served at least 2 years in the military, as long as that person was in the United States when he enlisted or was inducted, and is currently still serving, or got an honorable discharge.
  2. They have been a person of good moral character for 10 years
  3. They are not inadmissible for certain criminal and security reasons
  4. And their removal would result in EXCEPTIONAL AND EXTREMELY UNUSUAL HARDSHIP to his/her spouse, parent, or child, who is a citizen of the United States or a legal permanent resident.

Again, this is a complex form of Immigration relief.  Usually individuals run into problems in 2 areas.  The first is good moral character.  In most cases, people come to immigration’s attention after being arrested for a crime.  This can be a tricky area, and sometimes pleading guilty to one case is ok, where others are not.  Luckily, at Benavides & Serrano, PLLC our immigration attorneys are dedicated to defending individuals in both immigration and criminal courts.  You should never try to defend yourself in a criminal case, especially when you are not certain of the immigration consequences.  We can work together to make sure that you are not labeled a person of bad moral character.

The second problem area is hardship.  Unlike cancellation of removal for a permanent resident, non-permanent residents cannot use themselves to show hardship.  The hardship has to be to a Unites States citizen or legal permanent resident spouse, parent, or child.  Common hardships such as financial support and emotional hardship is not enough.  The hardship has to rise to the level of “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship”.  This is hard to define, but a common example is a medical issue that one of your loved ones might be dealing with.  Call us for a consultation at 713-222-2828 and we can talk more in detail about your case.

Asylum, Withholding of Removal (Convention Against Torture)

Asylum is for individuals who are from a particular country that is too dangerous to return to.  There can be many reasons for the danger.  It can be due to war, political persecution, or some sort of natural disaster.  You can apply for regular asylum once you get to the United States, or you can apply for “defensive” asylum, which is a form of relief once you are in deportation (removal) proceedings. Our immigration lawyers can help with your immigration needs regarding asylum, to be eligible:

  • You must be present in the United States
  • You must apply for asylum within one year of entering the United States (there are some exceptions – please call for a specific consultation)
  • You must demonstrate a “well-founded fear of persecution” based on (1) political opinion, (2) religion, (3) race, (4) nationality, or (5) membership in a particular social group.

Returning to a country that is dangerous can mean your life.  It is important to work with an attorney who can help you prepare your case to give you the best possible change for success.

At Benavides & Serrano, PLLC you will meet with an experienced attorney who can help prove your grounds for a temporary protection visa.

If you are applying for “defensive asylum” because you are in removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge, in addition to applying for asylum you may also be eligible to apply for withholding of removal and for relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT).

In withholding of removal, you must demonstrate that it is more likely than not that you will be persecuted if you are forced to return to your country. This is a higher standard than the “well-founded fear” standard for asylum which can be met if the person has at least a 10% chance of being persecuted.

At Benavides & Serrano, PLLC, our lawyers will do everything we can to help you during this tough time.  Please, pick up the phone and make an appointment.  Our lawyers are always happy to give a consultation and our honest advice.  Call us today at 713-222-2828.

Battered Spouse Petition, VAWA

Someone who is a battered spouse or child may be eligible to become a legal permanent resident if they have suffered abuse by a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident. The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) says the spouse may petition to obtain lawful permanent residency. The battered spouse or child may be in or out of status at the time they seek this relief, or if they are in removal proceedings.

At Benavides & Serrano we can help you apply for permanent residency under VAWA.  One problem with VAWA is that not many petitions are granted per year.  We will talk to you about your case and we will be honest.  If our lawyers don’t feel we can help you, we will tell you. We will never just take your money and watch you fail.  To talk to one of our attorneys please call us a 713-222-2828.

In order to apply as a battered spouse you must show: You are the spouse of a United States citizen or legal permanent resident or that you are filing within 2 years of your divorce (must show that the reason for the divorce was the battering/cruelty of the spouse)

  • You are a person of good moral character
  • You are eligible to be classified as an immediate relative
  • You have resided with your United States citizen or legal permanent resident spouse (or ex spouse)
  • Your marriage was not a sham marriage, you married your spouse in good faith
  • You were battered or were the subject of cruelty done to you by your United States citizen or legal permanent resident spouse (or ex spouse)

This is a very sensitive subject, and we know at times it is hard to talk about and relive the bad times.  But please call Benavides & Serrano, PLLC today at 713-222-2828 and our lawyers can help you evaluate your case to see if this is a possible form of relief for you.

212(C) Waiver

The 212(c) waiver is a discretionary waiver that can be granted by an Immigration Judge if you are placed in removal (deportation) proceedings.  Before November 17, 1990 all you had to show was that you were a green card holder and that you had lived 7 consecutive years in the Unites Stated.  After 1990 this changed, and this type of relief was not allowed for people who had what immigration considered to be aggravated felonies on their record for which they served at least 5 years in prison.  If you had an aggravated felony conviction, but didn’t go to prison for at least 5 years then you were still eligible.

The law changed again in April of 1996.  The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, otherwise known as AEDPA, was passed and new categories of convictions kept legal permanent residents from applying for a 212(c) waiver.  The new convictions that made a person ineligible were aggravated felonies, drug crimes, and 2 or more crimes of moral turpitude.  For this new law it didn’t matter how much time you actually served in jail.

In September of 1996 the law changed again, and the IIRIRA was passed (Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act).  This took away the 212(c) waiver altogether and created Cancellation of Removal (which you can read about above).

Even though the 212(c) waiver no longer exists, it can be applied retroactively (you can still use it if your conviction was from before 1996.  What you need to show to be eligible is the following:

  1. You have lived in the United Stated for at least 7 years
  2. You were convicted of a crime after pleading guilty prior to 1996 (trials do not count)
  3. Favorable factors outweigh unfavorable factors
  4. You have been convicted of an offense for which 212(c) relief is available (no weapons cases, or prison terms of more than 5 years)

As you see in the list, you are not going to get a 212(c) waiver granted just because you qualify.  You need to show the judge that the favorable factors outweigh the unfavorable ones.  So what are favorable factors?  Here are some examples:

  • Many years of living in the United States
  • Many family ties in the United States
  • Hardship to you and your family
  • Proof of military service in the United States
  • Many years of being employed and paying taxes in the United States
  • Strong business ties in the United States
  • Owning property in the United States
  • Proof of community service and value to the community
  • Proof of rehabilitation if you have a criminal record
  • Anything else that shows you are a person of good moral character

Unfavorable factors include:

  • A bad criminal record
  • The reasons you were placed in removal proceedings
  • A history of problems with immigration
  • Drug/alcohol problems
  • Lack of any of the positive factors listed above

Again, the 212(c) waiver is discretionary to the judge, it is very important to hire a lawyer who can work with you to gather all of the necessary documents to present in court.  The more proof you have the better; because a good lawyer knows that the judge will only grant this waiver if the favorable factors outweigh the unfavorable factors.  Call the attorneys at Benavides & Serrano, PLLC today for an immigration consultation.

212(H) Waiver

A 212(h) waiver is a waiver an individual can use to forgive:

  • Crimes of Moral Turpitude (except murder and torture)
  • Commission of multiple crimes
  • Prostitution
  • One offense of possession of marijuana under 30 grams
  • Diplomats who assert immunity

This is not available to individuals with convictions for aggravated felonies or other drug crimes besides the simple possession of marijuana listed above. You can use this waiver when you are in deportation (removal) proceedings or when you are applying for adjustment of status (AOS).  This waiver can be based on 1 of 2 things:

  1. 15 year waiver (does not apply to prostitutes)
  2. Extreme hardship to a qualifying family member

For the 15 year waiver you have to show:

  • The activity at issue happened more than 15 years prior
  • The admission would not be contrary to the national welfare, security, or safety of the United States
  • You have been rehabilitated
  • You meet all criteria of the regulation

Basically for the 15 year waiver the court wants to see that you have a clean criminal record for the last 15 years.  You cannot have any sort of conviction to qualify. For the extreme hardship waiver you have to show:

  • You have to show exceptional and unusual hardship
  • The hardship needs to be  on a spouse, parent, or child who is a United States citizen

Some examples of hardship might be medical hardship, educational hardship, emotional hardship, economic hardship. But economic hardship alone will not work.  The court is not going to grant this waiver just because the person in question is the bread winner of the family.  Economic hardship has not been shown to rise to the level of exceptional and unusual hardship.

Much like the other waivers, this is discretionary on the Immigration Judge.  The favorable and unfavorable factors weighed are the same as above:

Favorable factors include:

  • Many years of living in the United States
  • Many family ties in the United States
  • Hardship to you and your family
  • Proof of military service in the United States
  • Many years of being employed and paying taxes in the United States
  • Strong business ties in the United States
  • Owning property in the United States
  • Proof of community service and value to the community
  • Proof of rehabilitation if you have a criminal record
  • Anything else that shows you are a person of good moral character

Unfavorable factors include:

  • A bad criminal record
  • The reasons you were placed in removal proceedings
  • A history of problems with immigration
  • Drug/alcohol problems
  • Lack of any of the positive factors listed above

Again, it is very important to hire a lawyer who knows the types of items you need to gather to present in court.  The more proof you have the better; because we know that the judge will only grant this waiver if the favorable factors outweigh the unfavorable factors.  Call the attorneys at Benavides & Serrano, PLLC today for a immigration consultation.

212(I) Waiver

The 212(i) waiver is a discretionary waiver for immigrants who are inadmissible because of some sort of immigration fraud.  Some examples would be using someone else’s passport to get into the country, giving false information on an immigration form, committing marriage fraud, etc.  A misrepresentation is made when the person, by fraud or willfully misrepresent a material fact, tries to get a visa, or some other immigration benefit, or tries to enter the country.

To be eligible for the 212(i) waiver you need to:

  • Have a qualifying relative (United States citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent
  • Show that your qualifying relative will suffer extreme hardship if the waiver is denied

You are not eligible for a 212(i) waiver if:

  • The fraud was used to get a fake social security card
  • If you made a false claim of United States citizenship (unless prior to September 30, 1996)
  • If you are an immigrant who has a final order for document fraud in violation of INA section 274C

Some examples of extreme hardship might be medical hardship, educational hardship, emotional hardship, economic hardship. But economic hardship alone will not work.  The court is not going to grant this waiver just because the person in question supports the family financially.  Economic hardship has not been shown to rise to the level of exceptional and unusual hardship.

This visa is discretionary, so the judge will look at the entire case and decide whether or not to grant the application.  It is in your best interest to talk to an immigration attorney before you go to court.  If you are eligible for this waiver, our lawyers can sit down and make a game plan to give you the best possible opportunity for success.  Every case is different, so give the attorneys of Benavides & Serrano, PLLC a call at 713-222-2828 for a personal consultation.

212(G) Waiver

If a potential immigrant is found to have a communicable disease that is significant enough to endanger the health of the public then they are inadmissible to the United States.  One possible way to become admissible is by applying for a 212(g) waiver.  If the 212(g) waiver is granted then the person may become a legal permanent resident of the United States.  And eventually, will be able to apply for United States citizenship.

You may be able to apply for a 212(g) waiver if:

  • You have a communicable disease which makes you inadmissible, and
  • You are the spouse, unmarried son/daughter, or unmarried minor who has been adopted, or a United States Citizen, an alien who has been issued an immigrant visa, or an alien who has been lawfully admitted as a legal permanent resident, or
  • You are the parent of a son/daughter who is a United States citizen, a legal permanent resident, or an alien who has been issued an immigrant visa, or
  • A VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) petitioner

This is an uncommon waiver, which can be used if you meet the requirements.  Again, when you are dealing with important steps of your life it is important to talk to an attorney who has experience dealing with this.  The consultations at Benavides & Serrano, PLLC are always available, and we will always be honest about your potential success.

Immigration Holds

Benavides & Serrano, PLLC is unique in the sense that we are one of the few law firms in Houston that are dedicated to defending individuals in both Immigration and Criminal court.  This gives us a distinct advantage of understanding how both systems work and the ability to advise properly on both the criminal and immigration side, and how one might affect the other.

One question our lawyers get over and over, and something we have to deal with for many of our clients is the issue of Immigration Holds.  Many times individuals are screened after arrests in the local county jails, and if they are deemed to be “illegal” an immigration hold is placed under their name.  This can have one of two effects.  One possibility is that this will result is an unusually high bond.  The other is that there will be no bond at all.

If an individual’s bond is paid while they have an immigration hold, that individual more often than not will not be released from jail.  Instead, they will be taken straight into immigration custody.  This can be problematic because now they will have to appear before an immigration judge while a criminal case is still pending.  Best case scenario, the immigration judge will grant an immigration bond and the alien can fight both cases while out on bond.  Worst case scenario, the immigration judge will deny a bond and the criminal case never gets resolved.  This can cause a bond forfeiture on the criminal case, and will be looked at negatively during the course of the immigration case.

Sometimes a better option when someone has an immigration hold is to not bond them out and finish the criminal case while they are in jail.  If our lawyers can possibly get the case dismissed, or resolve the case where the potential conviction will not affect their immigration status, this might be the best choice.  It is very difficult to say what the right thing to do it.  Every case is very different.  The most important thing to do is consult an attorney and consult them quickly.  Making the wrong decision when someone has an immigration hold can have bad consequences.

It is very difficult to get immigration holds lifted, and this is possible in only very limited circumstances.  If you have questions about immigration holds please contact us for a consultation.

CALL TODAY

If you need legal counsel on an immigration or criminal law matter, contact Benavides & Serrano, PLLC at 713-222-2828. OUR CONSULTATIONS ARE AVAILABLE NOW!

The United States Government routinely seeks to place aliens, including those who are lawfully admitted as permanent residents, into removal proceedings. Removal proceedings means that the United States Government intends to deport you from the United States. These proceedings can be initiated due to various reasons including, overstaying a visa; entry using fraudulent documents; arrests and/or convictions for misdemeanors or felonies. In certain cases, relief from removal (deportation) is available. This relief comes in the form of political asylum; cancellation of removal; waivers or pardons under certain sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  You can read about most of those above.

Our immigration law experience makes a difference. Removal proceedings are a serious matter.  You can be separated not only from the country where you live, but from your family.   When you need a Houston immigration lawyer, contact Benavides & Serrano, PLLC. We offer initial consultations for all immigration matters.  Attorneys Eric Benavides and Sammy Serrano understand the important questions to ask during bond hearings, master calendar hearings, and individual hearings before an immigration judge. Our lawyers have extensive experience representing men, women, and family in immigration proceedings.

If you are involved in removal proceedings, you need an attorney with the skill and experience to protect your interests. We know the dangers faced by men and women involved in removal proceedings. Our lawyers know that deportation often leads to persecution and torture. We are committed to protecting our clients by providing aggressive representation in immigration matters.

At Houston immigration lawyers help clients file applications for residency, waivers for removal, motions to reopen closed cases, and waivers of deportation under the Immigration and Naturalization Act. If you have green card issues, or if you were detained for removal proceedings, call the Houston deportation defense attorneys at Benavides & Serrano, PLLC today. At our Houston Immigration office we handle all types of detained cases, including bond hearings at the Houston Processing Center ( CCA – Corrections Corporation of America), the IAH Adult Detention Facility in Livingston, TX, and all detention facilities nationwide. It is important to hire an experienced Houston Immigration Attorney.

Contact us today for a Consultation 713-222-2828

Benavides & Serrano, PLLC 2180 North Loop West Suite 310 Houston, TX 77018 Phone 713-222-2828 Fax 713-222-2832

The Houston Immigration Lawyers at Benavides & Serrano, PLLC, in Houston, Texas, represent clients throughout the state of Texas, including:

Houston, Galveston, Angleton, Pearland, Alvin, Sugar Land, Clear Lake, Conroe, Pasadena, La Porte, Missouri City, Texas City, Friendswood, Richmond, Rosenberg, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, San Antonio, Laredo, Austin, San Marcos, Dallas, Denton, Plano, Lubbock, Midland, Anahuac, Beaumont, Hempstead, Huntsville, Liberty, The Woodlands, Humble, Tomball, League City, Bellaire, Deer Park, Kingsville, and Katy and other communities in Harris County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Galveston County, Chambers County, Liberty County, Jefferson County, Waller County, Kleberg County, Nueces County, and Walker County.