Immigration Detention Explained

The United States uses detention as a means of dealing with undocumented or otherwise removable immigrants after their arrest. When a friend or loved one has been placed in detention, it can be confusing and scary.  This immigration blog aims to explain the detention process and how to help a friend or family member who has been detained. An individual may be detained because he or she is in the United States illegally and it is believed that he or she may be a “flight risk or that he or she poses a public safety threat. Detention allows the government to secure an immigrant’s appearance before the Immigration Court.  There are essentially four reasons why someone may be detained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  These include: 1. if he or she committed a crime; 2. if he or she has an outstanding removal or deportation order; 3. if he or she arrived at the border without a visa prior to applying for asylum or refugee status; and 4. if he or she missed previous immigration hearing dates.

When someone is in an immigration detention facility, the main objective of the detainee and his or her family members is to get released as quickly as possible.  This will require finding out if Immigration and Customs Enforcement, called ICE, has set a bond.  Bond is essentially the amount of money paid to ICE to guarantee that the detainee will show up for future immigration court hearings and obey whatever orders the Immigration Judge sets forth. Under the law, some people are not eligible for bond, and must remain in the detention facility until an Immigration Judge decides whether they should be removed (deported), which is why hiring an Immigration Lawyer will be critical.  After the bond hearing, the immigration judge will set a “Master Calendar hearing date and then an “Individual Hearing date, during which time the individual’s case will be heard.

Immigration Attorney, Edward Shulman, Esq. of the nationally recognized law firm, The Shulman Law Group, is a leading expert on deportation defense and visits detained immigrants on a routine basis.  As a first step, he assists family and friends of detainees to help locate the exact location of their detention.  For example, if the person is not in ICE-operated detention facility, he or she may have been taken to a local jail or correctional facility. If the detainee is indeed housed in an ICE facility, Mr. Shulman will first meet with family to collect background information, visit the detainee, and then consult with the individual’s deportation officer.  This is a critical step since every detainee is assigned a deportation officer who will know the plan for the detainee and who, in certain cases, has the power to offer certain forms of release from detention. In addition, having an Immigration Lawyer to help with every step of the process, from communicating with the deport officer to attending court hearings, will ensure that the individual has the optimal chance of being released from detention quickly and exploring all avenues of relief to prevent removal/deportation.

According to Mr. Shulman: “It is critical for family members and friends to act expediently on behalf of the detainee as the detainee may be removed within a few days or even hours of the placement in a detention facility. In addition, without warning, detainees may be transferred to facilities in other States, making it difficult for visitation.”  Likewise, Mr. Shulman explained that the sooner the deportation officer may be contacted, the greater chance that the detainee’s needs, civil rights, and future immigration plans will be protected.