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A Glimmer of Hope for Immigrants on an Order of Supervision

For most immigrants, having to report to Enforcement or Removal Operations (“ERO” or colloquially known as “the deportation office”) is a daunting experience.  Fortunately, if you are released on an “Order of Recognizance,” this means you were released without paying a bond and were not previously ordered deported.  Therefore, even though you have to report to the ERO, you will have the right to a hearing before a judge and will not be taken into ICE detention unless you fail to comply with the order or get arrested.

This article focuses on immigrants who instead are released on an “Order of Supervision.”  This generally applies to people with a deportation or removal order, sometimes issued in their absence, who do not leave and are discovered and arrested by immigration.  The ERO decides to issue an Order of Supervision to these immigrants for some humanitarian reason, e.g. they are a nursing mother, or the sole supporter of U.S. citizen children.

Under an Order of Supervision, a person has the obligation to report to the ERO office every few months.  From the deportation officer’s perspective, the purpose of this process is to ensure that the immigrant obtains a valid passport for himself and his children.  Often, he/she is told to return at the next appointment with a valid passport and plane ticket for departure by a certain deadline.  This causes great anxiety for people who have substantial ties to the United States, raised a family here, or face danger if returned to their native country.  Without proper legal representation, this category of people will be deported from the U.S.  Some attorneys, due to their unfamiliarity with immigration laws, wrongfully advise these immigrants that their case is desperate and that they have no form of relief.

It is very important that people under an Order of Supervision have their case adequately reviewed by an experienced immigration attorney.  There are several forms of post-deportation order relief that have been in place for a long time, although they are usually temporary.  Recently, the Obama administration has been drawing more attention to these types of relief, but has been receiving criticism for failing to implement them properly.  These include:

  • Stay of Removal.  This application is made to the ERO to request a temporary stay of removal, for up to one year, due to humanitarian reasons or due to another pending motion, such as a Motion to Reopen or Deferred Action Request.   Humanitarian reasons include U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident parents, spouses, or children, medical problems in the family, and dangerous conditions upon return to the country, among many other reasons.
  • Deferred Action.  This is a request made to the Assistant Chief Counsel, or prosecutor, to postpone enforcement of an order of deportation because of humanitarian reasons.  It is rarely granted but worth the effort when a case has many good factors.  If granted, a person with deferred action status is entitled to Employment Authorization.
  • Motion to Reopen:  Sometimes when an immigrant was ordered deported he/she can request to have the case reopened.  Motions can be based on lack of notice, when a person was ordered deported in their absence and were not aware of their court hearing.  Motions can also be based on the strength of a person’s remedy if the case is reopened, and the positive factors in the case, such as family ties in the U.S.  Your lawyer can also request the prosecutor to join in a Motion to Reopen if your case is very sympathetic.  If your case is reopened, you will have the opportunity to appear before the immigration court and argue your case.
  • Private Bill: This is a very rare and difficult process, where an immigrant asks Congress to propose a private bill only for their own benefit to get around an injustice in the law.  The process requires rallying community support and lobbying Congress for your cause.
  • Media:  Sometimes, when a person has been through particular injustice, and is at imminent danger of being deported from the U.S., the media can get involved and draw attention to the case.  This puts pressure on the government to pay special attention and follow the proper regulations.

If person is on an Order of Supervision, and can demonstrate the necessity to work, he/she may apply for an Employment Authorization card.  This supports the principle that the above remedies may be open to you, and the deportation may give you additional time to apply for them.  All post-deportation order requests must be heavily documented, with legal arguments, declarations, medical and criminal records and other proofs.

Most importantly, a person should always hire a lawyer immediately upon release on an Order of Supervision to assess their case and take the necessary steps.  Otherwise, the risk of being taken into custody or deported at the next reporting date is much greater.

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