What to Do When a Family Member is Caught by Immigration

An immigrant family’s biggest fear is that a family member will be arrested, detained, and deported by the immigration authorities. Below are some of the most common questions we receive at Lopez & Freshwater PLLC when a family member is caught by immigration.


Will My Family Member be Immediately Deported if Immigration Catches Him?


Your family member may be immediately deported if: 1) he or she has already been ordered deported previously, or 2) your family member agrees to be deported or accepts a voluntary departure from the immigration agent.


In most cases, though, if your family members is arrested within the interior of the United States (and not while trying to cross the border), he or she will not be immediately deported. Instead, he or she will be scheduled for deportation proceedings before an Immigration Judge. To start these proceedings, an immigration officer will serve the immigrant and the Immigration Court with a document called a Notice to Appear. The Notice to Appear lists the reasons that the immigration officer believes the person should be deported from the United States.   Usually the reason is simply that he or she entered the United States without permission or overstayed a visa. However, the immigrant could also be charged with having committed a crime that makes him or her deportable from the United Sates. Immigrants do not have to agree with the charges against them. They have the right to see the Immigration Judge and fight the charges in court.


How Can I Get My Family Member Released from Immigration Detention?


If your family member is detained by the immigration authorities, the first thing to do is to figure out if he or she can be released on an immigration bond. As a first step, the immigration officer will decide whether or not to set a bond. If a bond is set and you pay it, your family member will be released from custody and allowed to return home. He or she will still be in deportation proceedings, though, and will need to attend hearings before the Immigration Judge.


If your family member is not given a bond by the immigration officer, or the bond is too high, you can request a bond hearing before the Immigration Judge. Please understand, though, that while the Immigration Judge can lower a bond, he can also raise a bond amount or take away a bond altogether.


Certain criminal convictions make an immigrant ineligible for an immigration bond. If your relative is eligible for a bond, both the immigration officer and/or the Immigration Judge will consider two things when determining how high to set the bond: 1) the risk your relative will miss the Immigration Court hearings if he or she is released; and 2) the danger to the community if your family member is released. Immigration bonds typically range from $3,500 to $25,000.


What if My Family Member is Not in Immigration Custody Yet: He’s in Police Custody and Has an ICE Hold?


If your family member is in the custody of the police, often he or she will have a bond that he could pay to be released from custody. However, if your family member also has an ICE hold, paying the bond will not result in his or her release from police custody. Instead, it will only result in your family member being taken from police custody into ICE custody for deportation proceedings. So what can you do? Please speak to an immigration attorney before taking action. It is sometimes possible to have an ICE hold lifted through legal representation.

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