Atlanta Deportation Lawyer

Immigration rules in the United States are changing rapidly, which means the risk of deportation is higher than ever. This guide, developed by an Atlanta deportation lawyer will explain everything you need to know to face – or hopefully, avoid – deportation proceedings and get the best possible outcome for you and your family.

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Top-rated Atlanta Deportation Lawyer

If you are looking for an Atlanta deportation lawyer, you likely know that deportation and immigration are hot topics in the United States right now. Deportation proceedings, now officially known as removal proceedings, are the formal removal of an individual from the U.S. after it has been determined they have violated the country’s immigration laws. Deportation (removal proceeding) is ordered by an Atlanta immigration court. Removal from the country is the only type of punishment is imposed during removal proceedings; for example, you cannot be sentenced to prison time as a result of these proceedings.

Ever-changing immigration laws

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) of 1996, which was put into action in April 1997, dramatically changed U.S. immigration law. Notably, it combined exclusion and deportation into what we now call removal procedures. IIRAIRA also enabled local law enforcement to collaborate with national officers in matters of immigration and made many other changes to immigration law.

Since the 1990s, immigration law has continued to evolve and deportation has become an even more fraught topic. On January 25, 2017, President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Order expanding the focus of the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) to remove immigrants who:

  1. Were convicted of any crime
  2. Were charged with a crime that hasn’t been resolved
  3. Committed an act that is considered a crime
  4. Engaged in willful misrepresentation or fraud regarding an official matter before any U.S. governmental agency
  5. Abused any program related to receiving public benefits
  6. Received a deportation final order to leave the country, but has not complied
  7. Posed a risk to national security or public safety to the country. This public risk includes if an immigration officer’s judgment the immigrant should leave the country.

According to ICE, it conducted 143,470 administrative arrests in 2017. That was the highest number in since 2014. Approximately 92% of those administrative arrests were for pending criminal charges, criminal conviction and people who had final deportation orders. That same year ICE conducted 226,119 deportations, which was actually a decrease from 2016. However, the number of interior removals increased 37% during 2017 (this increase doesn’t include the number of people who were caught crossing the border).

In recent years, there has been a renewed focus on deporting immigrants and criminalizing some of the related actions.  Families with children were often given relaxed treatment, compared to say those with a criminal record. But, in 2018 President Trump moved towards a zero tolerance policy, which led to parents and their children often being separated – a practice that was previously discouraged. The parents could be charged with a crime according to a statute referred as 1325. Parents were sent to federal detention centers while their children were sent to separate facilities. Even though there have certainly been more enforcement actions during the Trump presidency, immigration policy has been constantly changing as each political party assumes legislative power. With both parties possessing strong views on immigration policy, it’s difficult to believe there will be a period without dramatic change anytime soon.  


The Need for an Atlanta GA Deportation Attorney Increases with the Uncertainty of Immigration Law

The constant changes in U.S. immigration policy mean that more and more people need the help of a trustworthy and effective Atlanta deportation lawyer. Immigration policies often change with the political winds, and recently more frequently. Unfortunately, this creates a frustrating situation for the millions of immigrants living and working in the United States. Additionally, people working for a living often don’t have the time to keep track of executive orders, rules changes, and new ICE enforcement trends, and the complex legal language, which can be tough to understand. A local deportation attorney will be up-to-date on changing immigration laws as they make their way through U.S. courts. A Georgia deportation lawyer will know what’s relevant, listen to and understand your situation, and tell you what you need to know in order to remain in America.

Today’s immigration climate is certainly challenging, but thankfully Atlanta immigration lawyers are on the front lines daily, fighting for legal rights to the fullest extent of the law here in Georgia and across the nation. 

Though these changing laws can make it seem like a frightening time to be an immigrant in the United States, experienced, trustworthy immigration attorneys are here to support you.

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Atlanta Deportation Lawyer Explains How to Fight Deportation

Every deportation case is different, and your Atlanta deportation lawyer can help you navigate your unique circumstances. For instance, the paperwork needed and waivers that apply will vary between cases. You may or may not be arrested, detained, attend a bond hearing, or appeal the court’s immigration decision. Deportation (removal proceedings) can take weeks or years, depending on the circumstances.

Despite the differences between individual cases, these are some general steps in the removal proceedings process to be aware of:

  1. Arrest
  2. Notice to appear
  3. Detainment
  4. Bond Hearing
  5. Master Calendar Hearing
  6. Merits Hearing
  7. Order of Removal
  8. Appeals
  9. Deportation

General Tactics to Use to Fight Deportation

When you are fighting deportation from the U.S., there are some things you can do to help resolve the matter in your favor. For instance, contact an Atlanta deportation lawyer immediately to let them know what’s going on and get advice on what steps to take. Ask family and friends to connect with individuals who will advocate for you. Your family and friends can also gather needed documentation that can be used at your hearing.

If you have received a Notice to Appear, read it carefully, then call an Atlanta deportation lawyer who is familiar with these notices. Look for any inaccurate or untrue information. Talk to your Atlanta deportation lawyer to understand Georgia immigration laws and how it relates to your case. The specific tactic used will depend on your criminal record, how you entered the country and your family members’ statuses. Depending on the situation, your Georgia deportation lawyer may suggest some deportation defenses in Atlanta GA or:

  • Request cancellation of removal
  • File a waiver of inadmissibility
  • File for asylum
  • File for withholding of removal

Regardless of the situation, an Atlanta GA deportation attorney can advise the best way to proceed with your case.

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Deportation Defense in GA

The first step in finding out you need Atlanta GA deportation defense services is usually receiving a Notice to Appear or NTA. If you receive a Notice to Appear alleging you may be removed from the U.S., don’t fear. You have the right to challenge the reason for deportation, and your Atlanta deportation lawyer will help you prepare the best possible deportation defense. Typically, when the Department of Homeland Security wants to deport an immigrant, it is for one of two reasons: an aggravated felony or a crime of moral turpitude.

In either situation, an Atlanta deportation lawyer will usually challenge the allegation by arguing the crime the individual is charged with committing isn’t a removable offense. You will likely have to appear in immigration court to plead your case. Your Georgia deportation lawyer may suggest challenging the allegations in the NTA with one of these approaches:

Waiver of Inadmissibility:

This is a waiver request that allows a person to remain in the U.S. even though they aren’t allowed to seek admission to the U.S. To stay in the country, an individual may complete this request by itself or along with a cancellation of removal.

Cancellation of Removal:

A permanent resident who receives an NTA or a non-permanent resident can fight the charge by applying for a cancellation of removal. This application waives certain immigration violations based on the status a person holds in the country (such as if they have no criminal convictions).

Asylum and Withholding of Removal:

A person who fears returning to their home country can request withholding of removal and/or asylum. Both applications require convincing an immigration judge (usually by an Atlanta deportation lawyer) they have a fear of persecution by their home country for one of five protected reasons e.g. religion.

Adjustment of Status:

An individual married to a permanent resident or U.S. citizen may be eligible for a green card to avoid deportation. However, it depends on how the person entered the country. If their family filed a petition for the individual before they entered, this strategy is more likely to work. The person may have to return to their home country to process the green card.

The Immigration and Nationality Act and Deportation Defense

The Immigration and Nationality Act or INA, created in 1952, was meant to organize various immigration laws into one cohesive document. Of course, there have been additional immigration statutes passed since the INA, but it is still an important document in immigration law, and some sections can be used to aid in deportation defense. Specifically, your Atlanta deportation lawyer may reference INA sections 101, 212, and 237 in your deportation defense.

INA Section 101

Section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act includes key definitions that are used throughout the act’s many, many sections. Terms like conviction, crime of moral turpitude, and aggravated felony are defined here. During your removal proceedings, your attorney may try to argue the definitions of these terms, saying that your actions do or do not meet the INA’s definition. If the court is convinced by your Atlanta deportation lawyer that your actions do not qualify as a crime of moral turpitude, for example, they may stop removal proceedings and allow you to remain in the United States.

INA Section 212

The INA section 212 defines and explains grounds of inadmissibility. Essentially, if you are guilty of any of the things they list in this section, you are not authorized to enter the United States. Or, if you are already in the U.S. and grounds of inadmissibility apply, you are not eligible to be admitted to a new status. This means, for example, if you have a green card and grounds of inadmissibility apply, you cannot “adjust status” and become a citizen.

It is important to know that even if grounds of inadmissibility apply to you, it does not necessarily mean you are eligible for removal/deportation. Additionally, there are waivers to inadmissibility described elsewhere in the INA. Your Atlanta deportation lawyer may be able to argue that one of these waiver situations applies to you.

INA Section 237

Section 237 of the INA explains and enumerates grounds of removability. If you are convicted of anything described in this section, you are eligible for removable from the U.S. If grounds of removability apply to you, the government can detain and remove you at any time. You do not have to be attempting to adjust your status to be picked up and removed, they can remove you as long as they can find you. This is where a qualified Atlanta deportation lawyer can help in your battle. 

Like with grounds for inadmissibility, a good strategy for fighting grounds of removability is to prove that a waiver described somewhere else in the Immigration and Nationality Act applies to your situation and waives the grounds for removability.

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The Deportation Process

People accused of being in the U.S. illegally may endure a long deportation process. The exact time a case takes ranges from a few months to years. Although each case varies and not everyone will go through the same process, these are the specific steps you should be aware of.  

  • Arrest: An individual suspected of entering the U.S. illegally may be arrested by federal or local law enforcement. They are then transferred to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). An Atlanta deportation lawyer can help family and friends understand the process and what happens next. 
  • Expedited Removal: If the arrested individual overstayed their visa or entered the country illegally and are within 100 miles of the border, they can be made to leave immediately. This is called expedited removal, and it happens shortly after the arrest. The ordered can’t be appealed. However, the individual can ask for the government to review and stop the order.
  • Notice to Appear (NTA): An individual who doesn’t go through the expedited removal will go through the traditional court process. They will receive an NTA which explains the reason for removal. The person is given 10 days to appear in immigration court.
  • Detainment: The arrested individual may be detained in a contracted prison or detention center until their deportation is processed. ICE will assess the individual’s safety and security risk and decide if they are a flight risk who needs to be detained. An Atlanta GA deportation attorney will advocate on your behalf here, in contrast to the story being presented by ICE. 
  • Voluntary Departure: Some people may decide to leave the country voluntarily after receiving a Notice to Appear. If the person does leave, they must follow strict guidelines. Voluntary departure requires that the person request an early deportation process and that they meet eligibility criteria. Individuals who depart voluntarily may be permitted to legally return later.
  • Bond Hearing: The arrested individual appears before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for a bond hearing. This is where a judge sets a dollar amount the person needs to get out of the contracted jail or detention center. If they cannot pay that price, they will continue to be detained.
  • Master Calendar Hearing: The master calendar hearing is a short hearing to determine how the case will proceed. The arrested individual admits or denies each charge they are accused of. They can request the hearing be continued later, however in one of the hearings, they must provide a defense (such as asylum). The person can remain in the U.S. during this process.
  • Merits Hearing: During this hearing, the arrested individual presents their argument to remain in the country. This hearing may take days to complete. At the end of the hearing, the judge decides whether the arrested person can stay or must leave. If they must leave, their lawyer can appeal the decision within 30 days. ICE can also appeal the decision if the judge decides the person can stay in the United States.
  • Order of Removal: This is when the person is ordered to leave the country. It often occurs at the end of the Merits Hearing.
  • Appeals: After being given an Order of Removal, the individual can request a delay of deportation by appealing the order. An Atlanta deportation attorney can help develop this and file the necessary paperwork for the appeal. 
  • Deportation: This is the final step of the process, where an individual is actually removed from the United States. Most people are typically flown directly back to their home country. However, arrested individual from Mexico are often flown to a U.S. border city and must walk or take a bus from the border city to Mexico.

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Removal Proceedings

Notice to Appear

Removal proceedings may start with an arrest as the person is crossing the border into the United States, whether at the Mexico-U.S. border or after flying into an international airport. However, if the person is already in the U.S., deportation (removal proceedings) starts with a Notice to Appear (NTA). The NTA provides information such as:


  • The immigration law or immigration status they allege you have violated
  • Why you are being ordered to appear
  • That you have the right to a lawyer
  • The time and date of the hearing
  • The consequences of failing to appear

A few important notes on the NTA: Although you have a right to an Atlanta GA immigration attorney for immigration matters, you will have to find, hire, and pay for the attorney yourself, unlike in criminal defense cases. Also, the consequences of failing to appear at your hearing typically include deportation, so it is very important that you show up for your day in court.

Master Calendar Hearing

A master calendar hearing (MCH) is a preliminary immigration hearing regarding removing the person in question from the U.S. In addition to you, a judge and an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lawyer will be present at the hearing. Your Georgia deportation lawyer can be present too, although you are allowed to appear without legal counsel.

No defenses or legal claims are addressed during this hearing. It is more a matter of process: the judge will set dates for you to submit documents and appear for a merits hearing. However, the MCH is very important and must be attended. If you miss it, you are automatically eligible for deportation. Make sure to be on time for the hearing, because if you are late the judge may think you skipped the hearing and decide you are eligible for removal.

Merits Hearing

The merits hearing is where an immigration lawyer presents their client’s defense against deportation. At this hearing, the individual can testify on their own behalf and will be cross-examined by the ICE lawyer. Both sides can present evidence to support their cases.

The judge will make their deportation ruling after each side rests their case. This is done immediately. If there is an Order of Deportation, you have the right to directly appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). It can take 90 days to receive a decision. This decision can also be appealed.

If you are facing deportation, an experienced immigration attorney can help you through the many stages of hearings and appeals and fight for the best possible outcome.

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How to Avoid Deportation / Ways to Avoid Deportation (before it happens)

Many immigrants and long-term or permanent residents living in Atlanta, Georgia can take preemptive measures to stay in the country. For instance, it is of critical importance to keep your immigration status, visas, and work permits current. Always inform the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when you move or change addresses. If they do not have your current home address on record, you might miss important documents in the mail such as a NTA and become eligible for removal by accident. Finally, it can be very helpful to stay aware of changing immigration law policies so that you always know your status and your rights.

Whether you have legal status in the country or not, you should know how to handle it if ICE shows up at your door.

First, know that you are allowed to ask them for proof they are ICE officials, and you have a right to know the reason for their visit. Secondly, know that officers can only enter your residence if they have a signed warrant or if you allow them to. If they do not have a warrant, you can refuse to let them in. Thirdly, remember you have the right to remain silent. Never sign anything that you do not understand, and be aware that it’s a bad idea to show officials any false documentation.

If ICE officials are pursuing you or you are facing other difficult immigration situations, there are resources that can help. Look into public and community resources such as:

In your area, there may also be local resources that can help, such as city-specific immigrant support networks or programs run by churches and shelters.

If you are a refugee or asylee, know that there are specific organizations focused on supporting you and people like you.

Legal non-profits like the American Immigration Lawyers Association provide free referrals to immigration attorneys and can help match you with an immigration attorney who has experience specific to your situation. For their Immigration Lawyer Referral Service, call (800) 954-0254 or email them at

Despite changes in immigration law and how frightening the news can seem, there are many people who want to help you in your fight to live in the United States. If you are facing deportation or any other immigration law complications, contact an experienced, trustworthy Atlanta deportation lawyer to support you in your fight.

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