Removal Proceedings

Refers to the process where noncitizens can be legally removed from the United States under certain circumstances

The Issue

In simple terms, removal proceedings refer to the process where noncitizens can be legally removed from the United States under certain circumstances. Immigration law allows for various defenses against removal, but not all cases result in the noncitizen being granted legal status.

The most common reason for a noncitizen to face removal is their failure to maintain lawful immigration status (e.g., entering as a visitor and overstaying). Additionally, criminal convictions, even minor ones, can also lead to removal proceedings. However, in some cases, American Muslims find themselves targeted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for removal, not necessarily because of their own actions, but due to factors like race, religion, national origin, or association with others.

Muslims in America and Removal Proceedings

Many Muslims in the United States end up in removal proceedings after their immigration benefit applications, such as asylum or lawful permanent residence, are denied. DHS identifies issues in the applicant’s immigration history or during interviews that may make them removable from the U.S. Once charges are brought by DHS, they may allege that the noncitizen did not obtain legal immigration status lawfully, made false statements to government officials, or committed crimes. However, in these cases, the focus often shifts to religious beliefs, charitable donations, politics in their country of citizenship, or actions of close relatives related to supporting terrorism. It can be extremely challenging for Muslims accused of having political or religious opinions tied to terrorism to find immigration lawyers willing to defend them. As a result, they may feel compelled to navigate the removal process on their own due to a lack of understanding attorneys.

How MLFA Helps Confront Discrimination in Removal Proceedings

MLFA’s approach to removal defense starts with recognizing the cultural complexities faced by Muslims in America to identify potential challenges within immigration removal proceedings. We understand the difficulties immigration attorneys encounter when defending these cases in Immigration Court because DHS does not openly acknowledge the discriminatory reasoning behind their charges, especially when there is no criminal conviction involved. Attorneys often prepare to defend against the specific charges presented by DHS in their documents, unaware of the government’s focus on religious beliefs, political activities of relatives or friends, and vague accusations of associations with terrorist-related groups. MLFA seeks opportunities to co-counsel with removal defense attorneys to openly challenge the government’s narrative with opposing facts. Our collective knowledge of the struggles faced by Muslim immigrants in obtaining legal status despite discrimination gives us an advantage in countering the biased practices of the government in removal proceedings.


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