Removal hearings are conducted to determine whether certain aliens are should be removed from the country. The distinction between exclusion and deportation proceedings has been eliminated, and aliens subject to removal from the United States are now all placed in removal proceedings. This means that the removal proceeding is now mainly the only procedure for determining whether an alien is inadmissible, deportable, or eligible for relief from removal.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for starting the removal proceedings. If the DHS finds a violation of immigration laws, it has the option to "serve" the alien with a charging document, known as a Notice to Appear. This document orders the individual to appear before an Immigration Judge, and advises him or her of the following:
- Nature of the proceedings against the individual
- Individual's alleged acts that violated the law
- Individual's right to an attorney
- Consequences of failing to appear at scheduled hearings
At the removal proceedings, an Immigration Judge will find a determination of the alien's removability from the U.S. and whether or not the alien is eligible for a form of relief from removal.