A situation which has occurred all-too-commonly is when a close family member is detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"). The following discussion offers some of the first steps, as well as critical information if you find yourself in this predicament.
What You Can Do
First and foremost, there is a useful tool which you can use or your attorney can utilize to check on the location of a relative. This is the ICE detainee locator website, located at: https://locator.ice.gov/odls. The new tool is a recent addition and has been helpful. Of course you will need the detainee's "A" (alien) number and country of origin and/or their biographical information. Remember it may take several days or longer to show up in the system so be advised when you check it the website may not reflect current updated information.
Next, you should be aware that even if a relative is detained he may or may not be issued a Notice to Appear (NTA) immediately. This can take several days. The NTA setting forth the basis for the allegations and a person's deportability or inadmissibility should be served on the detained individual within 72 hours. Sometimes it takes longer and may be delayed. Your family member is then provided at least 10 days for the first Master Calendar Hearing to be scheduled in order to obtain legal counsel. The 10 days is the minimum time period but may be shortened if the person asks for an expedited hearing.
It is essential that a reputable and competent Houston immigration attorney be consulted immediately and then retained, because a detained immigration case generally raises difficult issues. Some of these will involve whether or not the person is subject to mandatory detention, whether there is relief from removal available, and/or if not mandatorily detained whether the person is able to obtain bond or parole.
Bond may be granted by the immigration judge in certain cases pursuant to Immigration and Nationality Act. The main considerations in granting bond are (1) whether the person is likely to be a flight risk and (2) whether they are a danger to others or the community. Certain persons cannot be released on bond such as "arriving aliens" and persons who have committed certain crimes. It is imperative that any criminal convictions as well as all criminal history be reviewed by competent counsel to determine whether bond is possible. "Parole" is another way to be released but that can only be granted by ICE. In addition, parole is dependent on humanitarian reasons and other equitable considerations.
Finally, the detained person often has a wide host of issues which may be implicated. For example, they may be in need of medication or specialized medical care. We have seen persons with mental disabilities or psychological disorders. Obtaining good medical care in a detained environment is paramount.
Contact The Modi Law Firm, PLLC Today
Oftentimes communication with a deportation officer as well as the place of detention's warden or other officials is necessary to ensure proper treatment. The family member is well-advised to obtain excellent counsel to assist in assessing the best avenues for relief, as well as dealing with other issues, such as medical evaluations and care.
A Houston immigration lawyer is in a better position to visit detained aliens than family members who are often very limited in the times and duration of visits. If you would like to discuss how our Houston immigration attorneys at The Modi Law Firm can help your family, contact us by phone or through our evaluation form.
- For further information on what to do when a loved one is detained, see http://www.cuny.edu/about/resources/citizenship/info4noncitizens/info4undocumented/ImmigrationArrest.html
- See also this ICE website which provides a list of detention facilities, and can be searched here: http://www.ice.gov/detention-facilities/