Since the new administration took office in January 2017, the number of immigrants detained while their cases are pending has more than doubled, from 27 percent to 61 percent of the total. However, border crossings have dropped significantly, which means that more people from the interior of the United States—that is, people who have been living here for some time—are being arrested and detained. In some cases, even those who have legal status have been mistakenly detained by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). If it has happened to your family member or loved one, regardless of his or her legal status, there may be steps you can take to have him or her released.
Location is Critical
It is becoming increasingly more common for immigrants, especially the undocumented, to be moved to locations distant from where they have been living, so as to prevent flight. However, this can frustrate attempts by family members to assist or comfort them. As such, knowing your loved one’s alien number or A-number is the first imperative. ICE maintains a locator tool that is updated reasonably frequently, and inputting the A-number will usually give you a location unless an arrest was very recent (within hours). There is no way to tell how often your loved one may be moved, but it at least gives families a place to begin.
It is important to keep two things in mind, however. First, the locator does not cover those arrested who are under the age of 18, due to more stringent privacy laws for minors. If your loved one is a minor, you will likely have to call the ICE office nearest to you, and you may be denied information even then—ICE personnel are entitled to decline to provide information about detainees over the phone. Second, it is not uncommon for detainees to be moved into a local jail or prison, especially if ICE facilities are overcrowded. If this happens, you may not receive any information on the locator tool about your loved one, but it does not mean they have been released.
To Bond Out Or Not?
The other issue that many families come across may seem counterintuitive; in some cases it may actually be more advantageous to allow your loved one to remain detained. If someone is detained, then his or her case will move quicker—there are separate dockets for those who are detained and those who are not. Most families do prefer to get their loved one out of detention; however, since it grants more time to build a case and ensures he or she is safe.
Most detainees are eligible for bond, but some are not, depending on the reasons they are in ICE custody. If they are not eligible, though, it is possible that their detention could last quite some time. United States immigration has a backlog that stretches back multiple years, due to the number of vacancies on the bench, and if one must remain detained, conditions can become very poor. A good attorney may be able to file a habeas corpus petition to get the detainee out, but it is an unlikely gambit in most cases.
Ask an Experienced Immigration Attorney
Being detained can be very frightening, but if you have a knowledgeable attorney on your side, it can go better. The compassionate Chicago deportation defense attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC will do their very best to assist you and your loved ones in getting through what can be a difficult and painful process. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.
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