top of page


Brian O'Neill and his team have extensive experience in defending against deportation or “removal” (since 1996 the technical term for deportation) in immigration court. A successful defense depends upon the status and facts pertaining to the foreign citizen's situation. Some cases charge the foreign citizen with being "inadmissible" (you can't enter the United States legally) while others charge that the foreign citizen is "deportable" (even though in the USA, ICE has a right to "remove" the foreign citizen to his or her home country). It is important to note that deportation or removal proceedings can be initiated not just against undocumented foreign citizens in the United States, but also against permanent residence in some cases.

The first line of defense is whether the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has any business seeking removal to begin with. Brian O'Neill has had some notable successes getting Notices to Appear (NTA's) dismissed because they were not well-founded legally. These include a claim that the foreign citizen and permanent resident had committed a "crime involving moral turpitude" (CIMT) and therefore was inadmissible, when O'Neill's analysis of the charge demonstrated that the conviction was merely regulatory, so that the permanent resident was in fact admissible. (That same client is now US citizen). In another case a permanent resident was charged with "alien smuggling" when in fact her conviction was for the federal misdemeanor of "aiding and abetting an unlawful entry." In that matter O'Neill ultimately prevailed on ICE to withdraw the NTA, without any filing an immigration court, because of unreasonable government delay in getting the charges correct, and because the client had a solid defense she could assert to removal if the case went to court.

Other defenses to removal include asylum, and its legal cousins "withholding of removal" and "withholding under the Convention against Torture" (CAT), which are available to both undocumented foreign citizens in the US or lawful permanent residents (LPR's) who have lost the right to remain here based on LPR status. These cases require an analysis of the real risks to life and limb letter for citizen faces if he or she would, in fact, be removed to their own country. O'Neill has had many successes here, in particular involving LGBT victims of past persecution (some even with already existing, old orders of removal!) and others who are directly fleeing persecution in the home country and are classed as "arriving aliens" at the US border.

Certain undocumented foreign citizens who are been in the United States for over 10 years and have qualifying immediate relatives (US citizen or LPR spouses, children under 21, or parents) may qualify for "cancellation of removal" and award of a green card in immigration court, based on hardship their immediate relatives will suffer if they are removed. Brian O'Neill has successfully obtained permanent resident status for many deserving men and women in this situation in this country.

Finally, there are defenses to removal that only LPR's can assert, such as "cancellation of removal," which is a one time remedy for criminal convictions that do not qualify as "aggravated felonies.” Even in the case of so-called "aggravated felonies," Brian O'Neill has had notable successes preserving permanent resident status for individuals. These cases are typically ones that generate strong sympathy for the client's family situation, but which require strong and successful lobbying with criminal defense counsel's assistance in persuading state or federal prosecutors to amend the charges so that the client will not be removed.

Any foreign citizen facing the risk of removal to his or her own country should consult with Brian O'Neill to explore all possibilities of staying in the United States based on any of the above situations.

Tel.: 201-803-2126

bottom of page