About Deportation Hearings
Many immigrants who are detained go through deportation hearings so they can be removed from the United States. There are multiple hearings and the results could mean being separated from loved ones who are still in the U.S.
Attending the Master Hearing Before Immigration Court
After being detained, an immigrant will attend a first hearing, also known as a master calendar hearing. There can be multiple master calendar hearings before your trial actually begins.
What Happens at a Master Calendar Hearing?
At a master calendar hearing, you will meet with the immigration judge and attorneys to see how your case will proceed. The judge will set dates for when documentation needs to be turned in and schedule additional court dates. If you can not make the deadlines, it’s best to ask for an extension or continuance.
During a master calendar hearing, the court does not consider any legal defenses of your case, and no witnesses are called to the stand. No official rulings are made during a master calendar hearing.
Usually, during a master calendar hearing, other immigrants will be facing the judge as well. If you have a lawyer, you want to make sure your lawyer is present for all these hearings as a lawyer will be your best advocate.
During these hearings, the judge will also review the charges against you in your notice to appear and you will need to admit or deny the charges. If there is anything wrong with your notice to appear, this is the time you will need to tell the judge.
Attending Merits Hearings
At merits hearings, this is when the judge solely focuses on your case. This is when you have the time to make your case to the judge and can provide witnesses and other testimonies defending you. Many choose to also speak on their own behalf to the judge. Just like a master calendar hearing, it’s best to have an attorney present at merit hearings and take their advice on the best course of action. There will also be an attorney for the Department of Homeland Security who has the right to question anyone who takes the stand.
Those who participate in merit hearings should also keep the following in mind:
- Tell the truth — this is your best defense. When you or anyone testifies, it is under oath and you don’t want to be caught lying.
- If you made a mistake, be honest about it — again going back to telling the truth, by being upfront about a past mistake you show you’re willing to tell the truth and own up to what you did.
- Don’t say anything you don’t have to say — you may never have to admit to a past mistake if you’re not questioned about it. Stick to what you’re being asked about and don’t offer more information than you have to.
- Don’t get angry while testifying — getting angry or yelling on the stand won’t help your case. Even if you start to become mad, try to keep your cool by taking long deep breaths and answering questions as calmly as possible.
- Be sure you understand what you’re being asked — you don’t want to answer a question that you don’t understand. Ask for clarification if you don’t know what’s being asked of you. This shows, too, that you’re committed to wanting to answer honestly.
At the conclusion of merits hearings, a judge may make a final decision in the moment or a few days later. That will determine the future for the immigrant and whether they are allowed to stay in the U.S.
We Provide Support During Deportation Hearings. Call (818) 276-9900.
You or a loved one should not face master calendar or merits hearings alone. At Arnaout Immigration Law Firm we’ve helped immigrants facing deportation stay with their loved ones. Reach out today to see how we could help you — (818) 276-9900.