My loved one was picked up by ICE! Now what?!? #ICE #immigration #deportation

I practice almost exclusively immigration removal defense. Over the years, after doing countless initial consultations and taking frantic phone calls from loved ones, I have developed the following to answer the most common questions I am usually asked shortly after a person is placed in removal proceedings.

(if a person was picked up crossing the border, or if they have prior removal/deportation orders in their history, they may be deported right away without the opportunity of going before a judge. STOP READING THIS and contact an immigration attorney immediately to see if something can be done to stop their removal)

Northwest Detention Center

GEO Northwest Detention Center, Tacoma WA

Common Questions:

1. Is the detainee eligible for bond? There are a couple of things that make a person ineligible for bond, like an aggravated felony or being picked up by ICE within a certain radius of the Border. If a person is ineligible for bond, it might be possible to work out a deal with ICE to be released on “parole.” Parole is sometimes available from ICE if the detainee has been found credible in an asylum interview, or for other reasons has been determined by ICE to not be a flight risk or a threat to the community.

2. If he/she is eligible for bond, what to expect? A bond hearing needs to be scheduled. At that hearing, by law, the immigration judge cannot order a bond lower than $1,200. The amount of bond is set at the judge’s discretion so factors like number of DUI’s, or other criminal offenses, and the strength of the detainee’s case to stay in the United States will affect the amount of bond that is set. Sometimes, even if a person is technically eligible for bond, the judge may decide that he/she is too great a “flight risk” or a “danger to society” and refuse to set bond at all.

3. If a detainee bonds out of the detention center, future court dates will be scheduled at the Immigration Court that has jurisdiction over his/her case. If a detainee cannot bond out, court will be (usually) at the detention center where the detainee is being housed.

4. What court dates? Usually, a person in immigration legal proceedings will have 3 types of court hearings-bond, a Master Calendar Hearing, and an Individual Hearing. Sometimes, because the Immigration Court dockets are overcrowded and courts are understaffed and underfunded, a person will have several Master hearings.

5. Master Calendar Hearing? The MCH is like an arraignment in criminal court.

  • The judge makes sure the detainee has been served the paperwork that outlines the detainee’s “charges“- i.e. entered without inspection, or entered on a tourist visa and stayed after its expiration. These charges will also include any prior deportations/removals, and any criminal history. The detainee will be asked to concede and/or deny these charges.
  • The detainee will be asked to designate a country of removal (if he/she is deported, to which country should the USA send them).
  • The detainee will be asked to state what relief(s) he/she is seeking. This can be a combination of things-asylum and U Visa, for example, or Cancellation of Removal, etc. The detainee is also expected to submit any applications, e.g. asylum, COR, at this time (especially if this is the second or third Master Hearing).
  • The judge reviews any submissions and then sets the date for the detainee’s Individual Hearing, or another Master Hearing, depending on the court schedule and/or whether applications for relief have already been submitted to the court.

6. Individual Hearing? A MCH is held in front of everyone else who has a bond or MCH for that day. Anyone, usually, can sit in the court room and listen. An Individual Hearing is just the detainee, his/her attorney (if one has been retained), DHS/ICE attorney, and the judge. This is a trial to see if the detainee is eligible for the relief from deportation that he/she is requesting. The detainee can bring witnesses, will provide testimony, and other evidence they wish the judge to consider. DHS/ICE attorney will also bring evidence, cross examine the detainee and any other witnesses. The judge will also ask questions.  There is no jury. The decision whether the detainee stays in the United States or is removed is up to the judge.

7. If the Individual Hearing does not go well and the detainee is ordered “removed” (deported), this decision may be appealed.

8. If the immigrant is detained, this process may take 3-6 months, sometimes up to one year. If there is an appeal, the process may take longer. If the immigrant is out on bond/parole for the course of the proceedings, it could take a year or longer before the first Master Calendar Hearing and, often, cases drag on for years.

9. Most Immigration attorneys cost money. However, the money you spend to hire/retain a good immigration attorney will help you to

  • save money: attorneys know how to present a bond application to try and obtain the lowest bond possible from the immigration judge. Attorney’s also know when and where fee waivers may be requested so that their client does not end up paying large government application fees.
  • save time: attorneys with experience can hear the facts of a detainee’s case and determine if he/she has a case to stay in the United States, or if they should request Voluntary Departure and try to re-enter legally at a later date. Detainees can spend a year or longer detained, trying to figure out the immigration legal system only to be deported anyway. Some of the mistakes made along the way can have devastating consequences on any application to re-enter the United States at a later date. An immigration attorney can prevent this from happening. Immigration attorneys with experience also know what documentation and evidence is needed to present a strong case to the judge and will increase the likelihood of the immigrant winning his/her case in court.

10. Sometimes a detainee contacts me after they have tried to do all of the above without legal representation. Once the judge has denied all applications and ordered that person to be deported, it is often too late to undo the damage that has been done. This can be a very costly (in so many ways) mistake for the detainee.

One final tip-if you are looking to hire an immigration attorney, make sure that they are a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association. This is a group of attorneys who focus on immigration law and who stay up to date on the latest changes in immigration law. They also have a network of other immigration attorneys who all work together to make sure that the members of AILA have the best tools at their disposal.

(The above is an over view of the immigration court process and is intended to provide very general information. Immigration law is very time and fact specific. If you or someone you know has been placed in removal proceedings, contact an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible to discuss the case)


Noelle Sharp is an immigration attorney who focusses on removal defense and practices primarily in the Pacific Northwest. She is a member of AILA and the American Immigration Council’s Ambassador to the Washington AILA Chapter. Feel free to contact the Immigration Law Offices of Noelle Sharp if you have any questions- 253-254-5298

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Published in: on February 4, 2015 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Leaked ICE Documents Show Tactics to Increase Deportations

Leaked ICE Documents Show Tactics to Increase Deportations
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/14/immigration-criminal-deportation-targets/1919737/

Anyone who has not watched this video should find the time to take a look. PBS Frontline told us more than a year ago that this kind of thing was going on:

http://video.pbs.org/video/2155873891/

Watch the discussion of “targets” and “performance goals,” where a DHS official says on camera that they will deport as many people as Congress gives them the funds to deport. Or in other words, they have a quota that is set by the funding they get.

Published in: on February 15, 2013 at 6:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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