Texas Immigration Court
The immigration court is an administrative court that decides if a non-citizen has the right to enter or stay in the United States. It is officially known as the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”).
Immigration judges preside in immigration court proceedings. In addition to deciding whether an alien should be allowed to remain in the U.S., immigration court judges sometimes consider bond amounts and different forms of relief from removal.
There are over 60 immigration courts throughout the U.S. According to the EOIR, 13 of these immigration courts are in Texas.
Immigration courts often hear cases at several locations in the U.S. Hearings may be held in person but also by video conferencing with the immigration judge and the immigrant located in different places. For example, the Dallas Immigration Court resolves deportation cases of individuals residing in North Texas.
On the other hand, the San Antonio Immigration Court is responsible for settling immigration cases or petitions for immigrants living in South Texas. The Houston Immigration Court is entrusted with dealing with immigration cases involving non-detainees.
The United States immigration process can be intimidating for people looking to live and work in the U.S. Working with an attorney during the immigration process can be extremely helpful.
What Cases Are Heard in an Immigration Court?
Immigration court cases typically involve non-citizens charged with immigration law violations by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The cases generally begin when the ICE officials (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and CBP agents (Border Protection) issue a “Notice to Appear” to an alien. If an immigration judge grants the removal order, the DHS can start the deportation process.
Although the DHS attorney usually represents the U.S. government in immigration hearings, aliens don’t have a right to an attorney if they can’t afford one, unlike in the criminal court procedure. As a result, aliens often appear and represent themselves without skilled legal representation or help.
Texas Immigration Courts and the Pending Cases Backlog
In recent years, the EOIR has become increasingly unable to timely adjudicate the hundreds of thousands of cases it receives from DHS. As a result, the immigration court system is facing a growing backlog of pending cases.
Immigration courts in Texas have a considerable backlog – there are estimated to be over 300,000 pending cases as of 2023. The same estimates show that the Dallas Immigration Court faces more than 100,000 pending immigration cases. San Antonio Immigration Court and Houston Immigration Court are following closely.
Because of the backlog, certain individuals will have to wait years to have their cases resolved.
The Role of USCIS in Immigration Court Proceedings
While the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) is not directly involved in immigration court proceedings, its decisions can significantly impact the outcome of a case.
For example, the USCIS may grant or deny immigration relief that could change an individual’s status and affect their eligibility for deportation. In some cases, the USCIS may also issue a Notice to Appear in immigration court if there is evidence of immigration law violations.
Therefore, individuals must stay informed about any updates or changes in their case with the USCIS while going through immigration court proceedings.
Do You Need an Attorney for an Immigration Court Case?
You are not required to have an attorney representing you before an immigration court judge. However, since an immigration judge decides whether you are eligible to stay in the U.S. or be deported, retaining an attorney would be wise.
Some immigrants believe that if they tell their side of the story to the immigration judges, they will be allowed to stay. However, if you received a Notice To Appear, the government believes you are deportable. That means you need someone who is knowledgeable enough to convince them otherwise.
A skilled immigration lawyer will make sure the immigration judge sees all important evidence and that your rights are protected.
Immigration Criminal Defense Attorneys
Being arrested for a crime is already a stressful experience. If you are an immigrant in the U.S., the threat of deportation makes the situation even more difficult. The Texas immigration criminal defense lawyers at the Andrew T. Thomas Law Firm, are committed to helping immigrants maintain their visas or green cards. We understand how criminal law and immigration law relate to each other and can defend your innocence while also fighting to keep you in the country.
We Can Protect Your Immigration Status
Not only can a criminal conviction get you deported, but it can also permanently bar your eligibility for citizenship and even prevent you from ever re-entering the country. Our criminal defense immigration lawyers in Los Angeles and the Bay Area know how much is at stake here. We spare no effort to protect our clients from the serious consequences of a criminal conviction.
Turn to Us for Your Immigration Needs
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your immigration case, you should start working with an experienced immigration lawyer sooner rather than later. This way, you can save time, money, and effort rather than suffer the costs of a prolonged process. If you decide to hire us as your legal representatives, we will inform you of your petition’s status every step of the way and help you determine your best options. Contact our office today and get started on your new life with those you hold most dear.
Immigration Court FAQs
What Happens if I Don’t Show Up for My Immigration Court Hearing?
If you do not attend your immigration court hearing, a removal order will likely be issued in your absence. This means the government can begin the deportation process and even issue a warrant for your arrest.
The United States is home to many who have family abroad. Fortunately, this nation's immigration system allows citizens and lawful permanent residents to file visa petitions for their family members.
As a U.S. citizen, you may file an immigrant petition for a parent, spouse, sibling, adult child (married or unmarried), and minor child. You may also file a petition for a fiancé who is residing overseas.
Immigration Court FAQs
A notice to appear is the first document you will receive once you are referred by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you receive one, it means that you are in the United States illegally and that the government is seeking to deport you.
Talk to a lawyer if you have received a notice to appear. There may be several immigration options available that would allow you to remain in the United States.
It is advisable to have a lawyer when you come to your first immigration hearing. In fact, the judge may recommend that you bring one since immigration law matters are extremely complex.
When you get to the courthouse, let the immigration clerk know that you have arrived. When your name is called, you can tell the judge that you want to hire an attorney to represent you in the immigration proceedings. You can represent yourself, but the process is very complex and can take a long time.
If you miss an immigration hearing, an immigration judge may issue a deportation order against you. If you missed the hearing due to a severe illness or death, you may be able to seek a motion to reopen the case, where you can work to remedy the situation with help from an immigration lawyer.