Robert Coughlon 0000-00-00 00:00:00
When Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests someone, it is often a time of fear, uncertainty, and stress for the detainee’s family. In fact, there is much controversy nationally regarding the conditions under which immigration detainees are held. Some of my clients have called it “the worse thing they ever experienced,” while others have simply called it “adult day care.” Either way, it is important for an immigration attorney to act quickly when a person is detained and the family calls for help. We often receive calls from people whose loved ones were detained earlier that day by either the police or immigration for an immigration violation. Sometimes they were driving without a license, and pulled over by the police for a minor traffic infraction, and now the family wants to know where they are. This is a stressful time for families who don’t know the whereabouts of their loved one. It is important to reassure the potential client’s family that it is unlikely that he or she will be summarily deported. ICE does not simply arrest someone and put them on the next bus to Mexico. Due process entitles them to a hearing with an immigration judge, both for requesting a reasonable bond and contesting deportability. The first step in getting someone out of immigration custody is finding out where they are physically located in custody. To find someone’s whereabouts in custody, we often have to call a number of different ICE offices and search the online ICE detainee locator. After locating the person in ICE custody, the next step is to often visit the detainee and file a request for his bond hearing with the appropriate immigration court. We advise the client regarding the court process and his rights, and advise him about the possibility of release from custody. A bond hearing is typically scheduled by the immigration court within a week of filing the request. We also file “bond documents” with the court to demonstrate the client’s equities in the United States such as family ties and lack of flight risk. This is also a critical stage to determine whether the client will ultimately be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence with the immigration judge. Frequently, a person who has lived in the United States for more than ten years and has children who are United States citizens will be eligible to apply. At this point in the proceedings, the judge will not make a determination on the merits of the client’s request to remain in the United States. But we do typically submit documentation to the court to show hardship to the client’s family if he or she is deported. In addition, if the client has any criminal history, we also need to be prepared to discuss this at the bond hearing. A criminal history can negatively impact a client’s chances for bond, but not necessarily. The judge will determine if the client is subject to “mandatory detention.” If the client is subject to mandatory detention, then he or she will be held in immigration custody without bond. If the client is not subject to mandatory detention, then we must argue that the client is neither a flight risk nor danger to the community, notwithstanding some minor criminal history. Each case is different. For example, the recency and seriousness of convictions, if any, may bear on an immigration judge’s decision regarding bond. Also, the judge will want to look to the specific facts of the offense, which may either help or hurt the client’s case for bond. In the end, the result we hope to achieve is reuniting families. The client is released from immigration custody upon payment of a bond. They are then able to remain in the United States and be with their families while they await the outcome of their deportation proceedings in immigration court. In addition, if they are eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency, they may also obtain a temporary work permit and driver’s license while their case is pending.
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