Recently, I introduced the defense of “cancellation of removal for permanent residents.” I explained that there are two different kinds of cancellation of removal, for green card holders and for those who are undocumented. They each have different requirements. In this discussion, I would like to say a little more about cancellation of removal for permanent residents.
First, a reminder: there are four requirements for cancellation of removal for permanent residents
- The applicant has to have been physically present in the United States—after being admitted in any status—for seven years.
- The person has to have been a permanent resident for five years.
- The person may not have any “aggravated felonies” on his or her record.
- The person must prove to an immigration judge that he or she deserves to stay in the United States.
I’ve mentioned that these requirements for cancellation of deportation for permanent residents are easier to satisfy than the requirements for the OTHER kind of cancellation of removal (for those who are undocumented, which has more requirements). In fact, when the Department of Homeland Security attempts to deport a permanent resident, immigration judges usually do whatever they can to try to allow that person to keep his or her green card. Immigration judges generally do not like to take away green cards if they can avoid it.
In other words, when an immigration judge is making a decision about giving cancellation of removal to a permanent resident, most often the judge will GRANT it to the person and allow him or her to keep his or her green card. I would say that if a person qualifies to APPLY for cancellation of removal, in my experience, an immigration judge will grant it to them more than half of the time.
One of the key aspects of a “cancellation of removal” case for a permanent resident is proving the fourth requirement above, “proving to an immigration judge that the person should be allowed to stay in the United States with his or her green card.” This requires a person demonstrating that he or she is generally regretful for his or her criminal acts, and that he or she will take steps to avoid committing other crimes in the future. In these cases, immigration judges care very much about whether or not the person has taken responsibility for his or her actions. If the person does not seem to appreciate the seriousness of the situation, or tries to blame other people, I have seen immigration judges get very angry about this, and deny cancellation of removal.
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