Generally, when a person is arrested by Immigration, they have an opportunity to appear in front of an immigration judge. If that person is eligible for immigration relief, such as those in the other sections, they might be able to use that eligibility as a defense to removability. In addition to the other reliefs outlined on this website, there are certain requests that can only be made in immigration court.
One such defense that can only be made when a person is in immigration court is called Cancellation of Removal. There are two types of Cancellation of Removal: one for those who have "Green Cards" and one for those who do not have "Green Cards".
Cancellation of Removal for Lawful Permanent Residents ("Green Card" holders) provides relief for certain Permanent Residents who have had a "Green Card" for at least five years, have continuously resided in the United States for at least seven years, and have not been convicted of an "aggravated felony" as defined by immigration law. If successful the individual's "Green Card" is reinstated and the proceedings are terminated.
Cancellation of Removal for Non-Permanent Residents provides relief for some immigrants who do not hold "Green Cards" and have been continuously present in the United States for more than ten years, who have good moral character, have not been convicted of certain crimes or immigration violations, and whose removal would result in an "exceptional and extremely unusual" hardship to a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse, parent or child. This form of relief is very difficult to obtain especially because the "exception and extremely unusual" standard is incredibly high. If someone is able to obtain this form of relief then they will be granted a "Green Card" at the conclusion of their hearing.
In more recent years, there has been a push to increase the use of prosecutorial discretion and to close cases that are not what the government would deem as "high priority". In a recent memo dated November 20, 2014, the government outlines what it considers to be top priorities to include:
Immigrants facing removal who do not fall into one of these priority categories can request that the government use discretion in closing or terminating their case by looking at how the positive factors outweigh the negative.