Foreign-born nationals can obtain asylum in the US if they can prove they will be persecuted on various grounds (race, religion, political opinions, etc.) if they are sent back to their country of origin.
Immigrants account for roughly 14% of the total population in Illinois. According to the American Immigration Council, in 2018, there were 1.8 million foreign-born residents living in Illinois, while another 1.7 million native-born citizens had at least one immigrant parent. Only half of the immigrants in the state had US citizenship, although around 300,000 of them were eligible to become naturalized. Statistics show there are also approximately 400,000 undocumented immigrants in Illinois, with half of them living in suburban Chicago.
All undocumented immigrants in Illinois live with the constant fear they may receive a deportation order at any moment. Unfortunately, even Green Card holders may be deported if they commit certain crimes or fail to renew their residency permits on time.
There are two ways the deportation process can be set in motion – when you’re arrested by the ICE (for instance, during a raid at your workplace) or if you receive a Notice to Appear before the immigration court.
What to do if you receive a Notice to Appear or get arrested
The first thing you should do is talk to some experienced Illinois immigration lawyers, and fast.
For instance, if you were arrested by ICE, a good lawyer may be able to obtain a bond hearing for you. If you are granted bail, you will be released from the detention center and allowed to prepare for your immigration court hearing on the outside.
An ICE officer in Florida. Image via U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Flickr. Public domain.On the other hand, if law enforcement shows up on your doorstep with a Notice to Appear, make sure you don’t let them in. If you do open the door and step outside you may be arrested. Tell them to leave the documents outside and look up the best immigration lawyers you can find. You will need legal advice to prepare your defense at the immigration hearing.
Don’t panic! There is enough time to do that. The first hearing you’ll have to attend is just a formality, anyway. During that hearing, the judge will ask you if you admit or deny the reasons for deportation. Your lawyers will probably advise you to deny the charges. The judge will set the day for the hearing where your fate will be decided.
Ways to fight a deportation order
There are several defenses possible and your lawyers will decide which one would work best in your particular situation.
Family-based adjustment of status
This is one of the easiest ways to get your papers in order if you have a close family member (spouse or parent) who is a US citizen. They can file a petition so you can get a Green Card. To be eligible for adjustment of status you must have entered the US legally.
Cancellation of removal
To obtain the cancellation of removal proceedings, you must prove that you’ve been living in the US for the past 10 years and you’re of good character. At the same time, your lawyers will have to show that your deportation would cause ‘exceptional and extremely unusual hardship’ to a close family member who is a lawful permanent resident or US citizen.
Foreign-born nationals can obtain asylum in the US if they can prove they will be persecuted on various grounds (race, religion, political opinions, etc.) if they are sent back to their country of origin. The downside is that you must seek asylum within one year of your arrival in the US.
Withholding of removal
Withholding or removal is somewhat similar to seeking asylum. Your lawyers will have to show that you are more likely than not to be persecuted if you are sent back. The burden of proof is easier than in asylum cases and the one-year deadline does not apply. On the other hand, if you are granted withholding of removal you get fewer benefits than an asylee and, also, this doesn’t open any path to citizenship.
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