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How much do you know about the removal process?

Do you know that more than 11 million immigrants live in Colorado and beyond who entered the U.S. without having their paperwork in order? However, even if you followed a step-by-step process and obtained a family-based, employment-based or some other type of visa before you crossed a border, it still is no guarantee you will never face legal status problems or wind up in a detention center, facing removal proceedings.

Perhaps, your visa expired and a police officer pulls you over in a traffic stop. That incident alone could land you in an immigration detention facility. While you may have a perfectly logical explanation for your situation, it's no guarantee that officials will immediately release you.

The more you know, the better

To avoid these types of problems, it is critical to understand your rights and to know how to protect them. It's also a good idea to learn as much as you can about the removal process.  The following list includes pertinent information:

  • The arrest: Numerous authority officials have the power to take you into custody and transfer you to an immigration detention center if they have cause to do so. These officials would include local police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents or U.S. Border Patrol officers.
  • Expedited removal: If you've been in the United States for less than two weeks and the arresting officer took you into custody within 100 miles of a U.S. border, officials may request an expedited deportation. The current presidential administration is trying to change such regulations to include any region as a plausible location for an arrest.
  • Mail from the U.S. government: If U.S. immigration law officials wish to pursue an investigation into your legal status for the purpose of possible removal, you will receive a Notice to Appear. This document should be in your possession at least 10 days before your scheduled hearing.
  • Detention location: If ICE detains you, they may hold you at a local jail, an immigration detention center or U.S. military base. The initial location may not be your final location, as transfers often occur.
  • A non-forced departure: In certain circumstances, officials my give you an opportunity to volunteer for departure. This type of departure allows you to seek re-entrance to the U.S. at a later time. 

If you're ordered to leave the United States, you can appeal the decision. This may be quite a lengthy process and may go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in some cases. It is possible that you would continue to be housed in a detention center during that time. 

Immigrant advocacy

It can be frightening and stressful to try to face removal proceedings. The fear of being separated from your family or of having to leave behind dreams that you were just beginning to fulfill is enough to cause great anxiety. However, you can seek support at any time from numerous networks of immigrant advocates.

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