What to Do If You or Your Family Member Are Placed Into ICE Custody

By Noel A. Suniga

If you have watched the news lately it has become apparent that more and more immigrants are being placed in removal/deportation proceedings.  If you or a family member find yourself facing this situation, it may be helpful to keep the following information in mind.

The federal agency that arrests, detains and removes immigrants is the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).  ICE can deport people who unlawfully enter the United States without proper documents.  ICE can also seek to remove persons who overstay a visa.  Additionally, ICE can even seek to remove lawful permanent residents who have certain crimes on their records, even though many have been living in the United States for years.

If ICE has reason to believe you are in the United States illegally or have committed certain crimes as a legal permanent resident, it can seek to remove you from the United States.  ICE typically will place a “detainer” on you.  A detainer asks the jail to hold you so that ICE can pick you up and place you in its custody.  It is very important to keep in mind that if ICE does place a detainer on you, you cannot get out of detention unless both the state and ICE release you.

If there are criminal charges pending against you or a family member, you must first go to court to take care of that matter.  During this time it is extremely important for your criminal lawyer to understand the immigration consequences of the disposition of your case.  Extreme care should be taken when you enter a guilty plea. Additionally, you should not pay your criminal bail unless ICE has agreed to release you or your lawyer is requesting an immigration bond for you.  If possible, you should have your criminal attorney speak to an immigration attorney to discuss your case or seek advice prior to your being placed into ICE custody.

If you are placed in ICE custody, ICE will move you to an immigration detention center and then commence an immigration case against you.  This is what is referred to as “removal proceedings.”  Once in ICE custody, you will be given a “Notice to Appear.” This document lists the immigration laws you are being charged with violating.  While in custody, it is very important that you never sign something that you cannot read or understand.  You should not fall victim to intimidation.  Ask your family to contact an immigration attorney to obtain advice about your case.

If your family retains the services of an attorney, you can receive legal advice and determine if you are eligible for an immigration bond, and explore what forms of relief may be available to you, such as voluntary departure, asylum, cancellation of removal or other removal defenses.

Bailey and Galyen has experienced immigration attorneys who can provide you with legal advice and representation in immigration court.  Time is of the essence when an individual is placed into removal proceedings, and it is important to have attorneys who know and can help you navigate the complex area of immigration law.

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