Deportation or removal proceedings is the legal process by which the U.S. Government compels an alien's departure from the United States for purported violations of U.S. immigration laws. During this process, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for proving to an immigration judge that the alien is removable. Removal proceedings generally require the immigration judge to make the following two findings:
- Whether the alien is removable; and
- Whether the alien is eligible for any form of relief from removal, as described in detail below.
Removal proceedings are initiated when the government issues a Notice to Appear document to the alien. The Notice to Appear advises the alien of the nature of the removal proceedings, the date of the hearing, the alleged violations, the alien of his right to an attorney at no expense to the government, and of the consequence for failing to appear at the hearing. At the initial master calendar hearing, the alien must plead to the charges and assert any defenses that are available. The immigration laws provide a variety of defenses or relief from removal. All forms of relief are granted or denied within the Immigration Judge's discretion. The following are some of the most common forms of relief from Removal: