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Defense Against Removal

Defense Against Removal

Removal defense involves representing immigrants facing deportation from the United States. For many immigrants facing removal, the process involves appearing before an immigration judge in immigration court.

The master calendar hearing is the first hearing in removal proceedings before an immigration judge of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, during which serious substantive decisions can be made in an immigrant’s removal case. Advocates must be well prepared and have a clear case strategy in mind prior to the master calendar hearing, as well as a detailed plan for how to advocate during this hearing.

Typically, the immigration judge will decide three questions at a master hearing:

  1. Has DHS properly served the respondent with a legally sufficient Notice to Appear (NTA) and filed it with the court?
  2. Is the respondent removable as charged on the NTA? In other words, has the respondent conceded that they are removable, or, applying the correct burden and standard of proof, does the evidence prove that the respondent is removable as charged?
  3. If so, should the person be removed, or can the person apply for some kind of relief from removal, such as adjustment of status, cancellation of removal, or asylum?

In addition to deciding these questions, the master calendar hearing is also typically a preliminary hearing used to manage the court’s docket, to discuss preliminary issues until an individual’s application for relief from removal is ripe to be heard. The master calendar might be used as a status conference on a case or as a deadline to turn in documents prior to the individual merits hearing. For this reason, a person may have several master calendar hearings before presenting their full case to the judge in an individual hearing.

Some noncitizens may be able to terminate their removal proceedings, either because of DHS error or failure to meet its burden to prove the respondent is removable. Advocates may file a motion to suppress and terminate proceedings if DHS violated the Constitution or certain regulations during the arrest, detention, or interrogation of the client. Additionally, advocates may file a motion to terminate proceedings if there is a defect in the content or service of an NTA that initiated the client’s proceedings. And, of course, termination is also proper if the government


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