To the casual observer, the immigration court system in California is a tangled mess of rules, regulations and exceptions. It can be even more challenging for the undocumented immigrants who pass through the system every day. These individuals may not speak English as a first language and may not be familiar with the legal concepts of the United States. They need as much help as they can find in order to successfully navigate the system.
The obvious negative outcome under U.S. immigration law is deportation. Deportation can be augmented by a ban from reentering the country for up to 10 years. However, several other potential outcomes could also result.
Undocumented immigrants could be put on the path to legal status and given the ability to receive a green card. They may be able to claim some sort of asylum protection by going into the specific reasons why they came to the United States in the first place. They may also be able to apply for a temporary reprieve from deportation due to their career, family members or potential spouses.
Rights and support
People who go to immigration court have rights and protections that help keep the system at least somewhat fair. Undocumented immigrants have the right to due process and a hearing to argue their case. They can either pay for counsel or enlist the help of pro bono counsel. They are also able to present evidence for their case and to appeal the initial decision.
Undocumented immigrants need to make sure that they begin preparation for their case as soon as possible, attend every hearing on time and enlist help from multiple sources. Taking these steps will help give them the best chance to succeed.