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San Francisco Immigration Court Representation

Scott Mossman defends clients (“respondents”) in removal and deportation proceedings before the San Francisco Immigration Court. He also represents detained immigrants in removal proceedings before the Van Nuys Immigration Court. These respondents are in ICE detention at the Mesa Verde and Golden State Annex facilities in Kern County. Most of the immigrants that Scott represents in removal proceedings ended up in those proceedings for a criminal conviction or arrest.

Removal/Deportation Defense

In removal proceedings, the immigration judge first must decide whether the respondent is a noncitizen and whether there is a valid reason to remove him or her. There are many reasons to remove a noncitizen, including fraud, abandonment of lawful permanent residence, entry without inspection, criminal activity, and drug use. The immigration laws regarding conviction of a crime are particularly complex, so an argument to challenge removal for a conviction may exist. If so, we will file a motion to terminate the proceedings (in other words, to dismiss the charges against you).

Second, an immigration judge will decide any applications that would prevent removal if approved. Examples of these applications for relief from removal include cancellation of removal (EOIR-42A and EOIR-42B); relief under former section 212(c); adjustment of status (I-485); waivers of inadmissibility (I-601) under 212(h) (crimes), 212(i) (fraud/misrepresentation), and 212(k) (innocent ineligibility); waivers of deportability under 237(a)(1)(H) (fraud/misrepresentation at the time of admission) and 237(a)(1)(E)(iii) (smuggling of spouse or child); Temporary Protected Status (TPS); asylum, withholding of removal, and Convention Against Torture relief; and voluntary departure.

A respondent normally receives only one chance to prove that he or she should not be removed, so the best possible representation is critical. Further, the consequences of an order of removal can be severe. The person may not be able to return to the United States for 5 years to life.

Bond and Custody Hearings

One of ICE‘s favorite tools to coerce respondents into accepting removal is detention. This detention can last anywhere from several months to years if a respondent chooses to fight his or her case. In many cases, however, an immigration judge has the authority to review and modify ICE‘s decision on detention. The immigration judge may reduce the amount of a bond (bail) set by ICE or grant bond if ICE did not.

Our firm will quickly gather and present the evidence needed to support a favorable decision by the immigration judge. That evidence includes proof of family and employment ties, financial resources, eligibility to apply for lawful status, and good character letters. Most significantly, we obtain court records to document the disposition of any criminal charges. Scott also will help the client prepare to testify in the bond hearing. These hearings often happen within a few weeks of detention by ICE, so it is important to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. Immediate filing of a bond redetermination request may also prevent the client‘s transfer out of the Northern California area.

Section 236(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires mandatory detention of some respondents during removal proceedings. Mandatory detention applies to respondents who are inadmissible or deportable for certain criminal convictions and where the respondent was released from criminal custody after October 9, 1998. Those convictions include aggravated felonies, controlled substance offenses, firearms offenses, two or more crimes of moral turpitude, a single crime of moral turpitude that resulted in a sentence to a year or more, and miscellaneous other convictions. ICE rarely offers bond in these cases, and immigration judges have no jurisdiction to review the denial (or amount) of bond if the person is subject to 236(c).

An immigration judge can review whether the person actually is subject to 236(c) by conducting what is known as a Joseph hearing. See Matter of Joseph, 22 I&N Dec. 799 (BIA 1999). A person is not subject to mandatory detention if the immigration judge determines ICE is substantially unlikely to prevail in establishing that he or she is inadmissible or deportable under one of the grounds listed in 236(c). Scott will evaluate whether there are any potential legal arguments against mandatory detention and argue them to the judge.