Have immigration officials taken action against you to start the removal process? If so, one of the first events in the process will be something called a master calendar hearing, also known as an MCH. An MCH is a brief appearance in front of an immigration judge and a federal attorney. The purpose of the meeting is to set the schedule for all further court appearances. During this meeting, the judge doesn't consider the facts in the case or make any kind of ruling on whether you should stay or be removed. However, your actions in this meeting can influence the final decision. Here are three tips to help you successfully manage the MCH and move forward in a positive manner:
Get there early. You will have a set time for your MCH to start. However, it's advisable for you to get there with plenty of time to spare. The MCHs are usually held in a large courtroom and the judge may have dozens of MCHs scheduled throughout the day. When it's your turn to appear in front of the judge, there will be other people in attendance waiting for their MCH to start.
It's important that you're there early because the schedule can vary wildly. People scheduled before you may not show up, putting the judge ahead of schedule. If you're not there when your name is called, the judge has the authority to immediately rule for removal, ending your appeal before it even begins. Don't take this risk. Be there plenty early so you're there when your name is called.
Ask for a translator. Even though this isn't a trial or a hearing where a major decision is made, you will still be asked questions by the judge. Most of these questions will be about whether you are innocent or guilty of certain charges. Your answers will be on the official court record, so it's important that you get them right. If you're not comfortable answering questions in English, you have the right to ask for a translator. They may have an interpreter in the building, but if not, they will get one on a speaker phone. Don't answer any questions that you don't understand. You have the right to ask the judge or the interpreter to rephrase the questions as many times as you need them to.
Be careful about bringing family. An MCH hearing usually isn't a good setting for children. While you wait, you'll be in a courtroom where silence is mandatory. Also, if the judge is running behind schedule, you may need to wait for several hours. Also, be careful about bringing family members who may not have entered the country legally. If they are identified at the court building as being wanted by immigration officials, they could be placed under arrest.
If you want support during the MCH, your best option may be to hire an immigration attorney, such as Carmen DiAmore-Siah Attorney At Law. They can speak on your behalf at the hearing and can help you decide how to respond to certain charges.Share
2 September 2015
My son has been best friends with a little boy from up the street for about two years. When his family came to me and told me that they may be leaving because of immigration issues, my heart broke. Those two boys spend so much time together and I knew that my son and his friend would be scarred for life if they were separated like that. I told the family that I would do some digging and talk with an immigration attorney friend of mine and see what I could find out. This blog was created to help this family as well as any others going through immigration struggles.