What Do I Say in Immigration Court Hearing?
Facing an immigration judge in immigration court brings fear to everyone. I was so nervous the first time I took a client to immigration court that I began asking my questions in Spanish, instead of English, because that is how I always spoke to my client. Twenty years later, knowing I won the case, I laugh.
In 2023, over 300,000 noncitizens were given a Notice to Appear at a court hearing. Lawyers are not guaranteed, leaving these foreigners to ask friends and family members, “What do I say to an Immigration Judge? What do I say in an Immigration Court hearing?”
Persecution and Harm
What the judge needs to hear depends on the type of case. An Immigration Judge deciding an asylum case needs to know whether the person on the witness stand was harmed in the past and why they fear they will be harmed if they return to their country. The Immigration Judge also needs to understand WHY the person was harmed. Asylum is only for persons who were harmed because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a vulnerable group.
An Immigration Judge deciding a case based on Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) does not need to know WHY a person was harmed. It doesn’t matter. The Immigration Judge needs to know what the harm was.
Tell the Immigration Judge What You Cannot Remember
Strangely and wonderfully, the mind protects us from painful memories. For decades I could not remember memories before college. I had an epileptic seizure during my freshman year. A great wipeout as if a tsunami cleaned out the neurons.
Recently, I became so determined to own my past that I went to see hypnotist Ary Rodriguez. No expectations, just hope that she might be able to bring up what I forgot. The results were incredible. I remembered childhood pets, the names of friends, the dress I wore to my junior high prom, the song that played. Life has color again.
I also remembered pain and hurt.
The Immigration Judge needs to know the terrible details of what you survived. If you cannot remember the facts, hire an attorney who understands. Hire a therapist. Hire a hypnotist. You cannot change the past, but you must build your future.
Disclaimer – These entries are based on real life events. Family member names, when used, are real. Client names are changed for privacy.