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What Occurs at Immigration Hearings?

In the early days of 2023, United States President Joe Biden scheduled a visit to the southern border with Mexico to get a closer look at the situation involving thousands of migrants seeking asylum. Since 2020, when former President Donald Trump closed the U.S. borders in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the southern border has devolved into chaos for immigration officials in the U.S. and Mexico. To this effect, President Biden has proposed a plan to process migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela so they don’t have to wait for months to apply for asylum while staying in refugee camps with inadequate living conditions. Immigration policy analysts are concerned about this proposal because it will increase the backlog of immigration hearings, which researchers from Syracuse University estimate to be at more than 2 million.

Immigration hearings are court cases that fall under the oversight of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The main categories of cases heard by EOIR courts include:

  • Asylum petitions
  • Challenges to deportation or removal
  • Violations of immigration laws or rules

In general, immigration hearings are court proceedings triggered by a Notice to Appear or Notice of Hearing. The foreigners who receive these notices are called to respond to demands from the Department of Homeland Security. Invariably, this means DHS wants to remove the respondent from the U.S. Even asylum petitions have this connotation because applicants must prove why they should be admitted and allowed to apply for immigration benefits such as employment authorization and legal residence.

What to Expect from Immigration Court Hearings

Under the laws and rules that govern the American immigration system, immigration hearings are conducted in the spirit of due process, but respondents aren’t given the benefit of free legal representation, which means they should retain an immigration law firm as soon as they receive a notice. DHS will assign its own trial attorneys for these hearings, which can be managed on a master or individual basis.

Master hearings are usually group proceedings in which DHS lawyers will present the reasons they believe respondents should be removed, but these reasons must be backed by violations of immigration law. These group hearings are mostly preliminary. The majority of judges will schedule subsequent hearings, particularly if the respondents were detained and delivered to the courtroom without legal representation. A second hearing gives immigrants time to retain legal counsel, prepare their cases, or even leave the country of their own accord.

Individual hearings are for respondents who wish to ascertain their right to stay in the U.S. and continue the immigration process. This is when judges will hear testimony, review documents, examine the evidence, evaluate facts, and allow witnesses to participate. All these actions must follow EOIR rules of procedure. 

Though not all immigration law firms handle court cases, there are many other crucial reasons to seek immigration services in San Diego, CA.

The possible outcomes of immigration court hearings may include scheduling future hearings, dismissing DHS claims and complaints, posting a bond to be released from detention, or issuing final orders. It’s important to remember respondents have the right to petition the Board of Immigration Appeals if they believe an adverse decision was made by the EOIR judge.

If you have questions about immigration services and how they may affect you and your family, contact trustworthy immigration attorneys in San Diego, CA. The lawyers at KS Visa Law have vast experience with every aspect of immigration law, and they’re the attorneys to call on when you need the most up-to-date information about immigration regulations and how to navigate the immigration court system. Call KS Visa Law today at 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.

May 2024