Photo of protestors with a sign saying "stop deportation".

Removal Defense

Removal defense involves representing and advocating for immigrants facing deportation from the United States. For many immigrants facing removal from the United States, the process involves appearing before an immigration judge in immigration court. Most immigrants cannot afford to have an attorney represent them in court. Sadly, legal representation is the single most important factor in determining whether someone will win or lose their case.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) builds the capacity of practitioners to represent clients in immigration court proceedings. As national experts in immigration law, the ILRC publishes a hands-on comprehensive manual, Removal Defense: Defending Immigrants in Immigration Court, and offers trainings on this topic. We also support practitioners and pro bono attorneys in their specific cases through our Attorney of the Day (AOD) technical assistance service.

Latest Resources

Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
09/28/2022
This practice advisory addresses what a practitioner can and should do when DHS submits an I-213 to prove “alienage” or any other facts in a case. After a brief discussion of the purpose of an I-213 and why DHS often submits it during removal proceedings, the advisory discusses objections that practitioners should consider making in order to exclude the I-213 from the record in removal proceedings or, at a minimum, to argue that the I-213 should not be given any significant weight by the immigration judge. It discusses how to overcome the presumption that I-213s are inherently trustworthy and concludes with a synopsis of when and how to submit a motion to suppress in cases involving regulatory or constitutional violations.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
09/28/2022
This practice advisory outlines the requirements and process of enrolling in Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the first time.  It provides an overview of the basic requirements for TPS and identifies red flag issues that require careful analysis. It provides guidance on the TPS application process, including preparing a waiver of inadmissibility. It also offers practical guidance about when to file in immigration court and when an eligible individual may qualify for late initial registration.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
09/27/2022
California has strict confidentiality laws that govern when and to whom records from dependency and youth justice (delinquency) proceedings may be released. Immigration advocates need to be aware of these laws and ensure they are complied with when representing individuals with California juvenile records. This guide provides an overview of the law and practical guidance for how to handle issues of juvenile confidentiality before USCIS.
Archive
Resources
Publication Date
07/14/2022
In 2016, California enacted California Penal Code § 1473.7, a post-conviction relief vehicle allowing people no longer in criminal custody to vacate legally defective convictions. Ever since, the ILRC has supported advocates to implement this law, including helping to defend the vacaturs from DHS attempts to erode its impact. In Arias v. Garland, a case currently pending before the Ninth Circuit, the court will decide whether 1473.7 should be given full effect, erasing the conviction for immigration purposes. The ILRC helped coordinate Mr. Arias’s amicus strategy and we offer his redacted merits brief as well as the extraordinary amicus briefs submitted in support so that they might help practitioners facing similar arguments. The briefing in the Arias case represents some of the most robust arguments for why 1473.7 vacaturs should be recognized, but we also include below the various prior briefs, advisories, and sample materials we have developed in the defense of the full reach of 1473.7.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
07/12/2022
Thousands of noncitizens in California are at risk of removal or cannot qualify for immigration relief because they have unlawfully imposed criminal convictions. The good news is that there are several options under California law to eliminate these convictions for immigration purposes, using post-conviction relief (PCR).  This Advisory can help advocates to identify which of these forms of California PCR may help your client, and direct you to more resources about how to obtain it.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
06/29/2022
Filing an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is a crucial step for many noncitizens facing removal because it is the last opportunity to obtain a favorable decision from the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Often, reviewing the immigration judge’s decision for errors is a daunting task. It can be difficult to separate identifying issues to appeal, from the overwhelming sense of injustice that can result from a negative decision. This advisory will focus on reviewing decisions by Immigration Judges (IJs) and identifying issues to raise on appeal to the BIA. The goal is to equip practitioners with a framework to look for errors where the IJ has denied relief or otherwise ordered removal.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
06/28/2022
Clients with mental illness have needs and vulnerabilities that present unique challenges in immigration proceedings. This practice advisory provides an overview on advocating for clients with mental health issues, specifically focusing on representation in the detained setting. The advisory discusses legal authority that an immigration practitioner can utilize to protect a client’s due process rights and ensure their client’s agency is respected and they have a meaningful opportunity to present their case.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
06/27/2022
This advisory provides detailed instruction on how and where to file a motion to reopen for attorneys who have successfully vacated a conviction for immigration purposes and their client is now eligible for termination or a form of relief. In addition, the advisory addresses the impact of the post-departure bar and reinstatement of prior removal order on post-conviction relief motions to reopen.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
06/23/2022
This advisory provides an overview of ICE’s new “victim-centered” approach to immigration enforcement based on an August 2021 directive, including who qualifies as a victim and which ICE actions are covered. As part of this new approach, ICE officers and agents are instructed to look out for and in various circumstances exercise prosecutorial discretion in favor of noncitizen survivors of crime as part of their decisions to arrest, detain, release, and refer noncitizens.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
07/25/2022
On April 3, 2022, ICE Principal Legal Advisor Kerry Doyle issued guidance to all OPLA attorneys on how and when to exercise prosecutorial discretion in removal proceedings under DHS’s enforcement priorities. That guidance took effect on April 25, 2022 and replaces the previous OPLA guidance issued by former Principal Legal Advisor John Trasviña in May 2021. The Doyle guidance presents new opportunities for practitioners to seek positive outcomes for clients facing deportation, while also presenting some new challenges. This practice advisory provides key information on the Doyle memo and practice tips on advocating for prosecutorial discretion for clients in removal proceedings. The advisory also includes information on the ongoing litigation challenging DHS’s enforcement priorities and how that litigation may affect OPLA’s exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
03/29/2022
This advisory gives an overview of the SIJS-based adjustment of status process. It will give step-by-step guidance for both the affirmative process, for young people who are not in removal proceedings, and for the defensive process, for young people who are in removal proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review.