How to Write a Letter to an Immigration Judge About a Family Member

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Family members can write letters to immigration judges to vouch for the character of a detained person and request that he or she be released from detention and allowed to remain in the country. These letters are called Cancellation of Removal letters. They are written when a non-permanent resident has a visa that is about to expire or has been arrested for violating immigration laws. The stress of having a family member in jail is enough without the threat of deportation, but a family member can write a letter to support the detainee's good character and to advise the judge that their deportation would cause you hardship.

Tips for Writing the Letter

Write the letter from the heart. Don’t worry too much about its form. Be detailed about your relationship to the detained person so that the judge will have a feeling of getting to know your family member.

Address the letter to “Dear Immigration Judge” if you don’t know the judge's name. If you do know the judge's name, address the the letter to “Honorable Judge John Doe,” for example, and lead the letter with "Dear Judge Doe,".

Begin the letter by introducing yourself by your full name. Tell the judge your age and family relation to the detainee. If you are a legal resident, tell the judge your immigration status. Explain to the judge how your family would be torn apart if your family member were to be deported. Explain the hardships it would cause, especially if that person is one of the breadwinners in the family. Give details about his or her financial responsibilities to the family, such as helping pay rent or buy food. Tell the judge if the detainee is a child care providers in a household where both parents work.

If you have first-hand knowledge, explain to the judge about any bad conditions in the country where the detainee may be sent. If the country is peaceful and there are no hardships, don’t mention it. If you have never been to the country, encourage relatives who have been there to write their own letters explaining the bad conditions in detail.

Tell the judge about good deeds the detainee has done in the community where he or she has been living. Express how the detainee has become a valuable member of the community. If he or she has never had legal trouble before, include that fact in your letter.

Translation of a Letter

Write the letter in your native tongue even if it is not English. Get someone who knows both languages to translate the letter. The person does not have to be a professional translator.

If you use a translator, request a Certificate of Translation from the court. Some states have this form available for download on their court websites. The translator will complete the form to swear that everything translated is accurate. Mail the Certificate of Translation, the original letter and the translated letter to the judge.

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