Maybe your sister’s husband was picked up in San Bernardino a few hours ago by the police and they plan to transfer him to an immigration jail.
Perhaps your niece is in a Riverside County jail and she has been told that immigration has placed a special “hold” on her release.
Or ICE agents came to your house in San Diego and arrested your father for a small crime he committed over 20 years ago.
However it happens, being taken into custody by immigration officers is one of the most difficult and scary experiences for immigrants and their families.
Do Not Panic!
Some individuals want to give up as soon as they are placed in custody. When they are questioned by immigration officials, they choose the easy way out.
Feeling desperate, they refuse to wait to be released. They don’t want to live trapped inside an immigration jail cell for weeks, months, and sometimes years. They’re afraid of losing their case and worried about being deported.
They agree to a grant of voluntary departure or expedited removal, even before talking to an immigration attorney experienced in deportation defense.
This is the wrong way to handle the situation.
Your sister’s husband may have a good defense against deportation and chance to win his case. But he throws it away.
The easy way out becomes his forever nightmare.
When your relative is taken to an immigration detention center, the first step is to figure out if he or she qualifies for bond.
What Is Bond?
A bond is money which a detained immigrant must deposit to be released while removal proceedings are pending.
The amount of the money required to deposit is set by the Department of Homeland Security.
The government sets the bond amount at a level high enough to ensure the immigrant will show up at all deportation hearings.
The payment of bond is known as “posting bond.”
Once the deposit is made, the immigrant is discharged from custody.
At the end of the case, the money is given back to the person who made the deposit. However, if the immigrant does not show up at his hearings, the bond is kept by the government.
What Is A Bond Hearing?
If the immigrant cannot afford to the bond amount set by DHS, he can request a bond hearing with an immigration judge.
The judge has the authority to review the bond amount. In some cases, the judge may lower the bond amount.
But there is no assurance of a lower bond amount.
Mandatory Detention – Your Relative May Not Be Entitled To Bond
There are no guarantees that a particular individual will be released on an immigration bond.
Often, the government will refuse to set a bond amount.
If your immigrant relative is classified by the government as an arriving alien, or someone who has committed an aggravated felony – or a terrorist – he will not be entitled to a bond hearing.
This is deemed mandatory detention.
What Happens At Immigration Court Bond Hearings?
Even with the assistance of an experienced deportation lawyer, bond is not guaranteed.
In most bond cases, the key to winning the release of your family member at the lowest possible price is well-documented, precisely detailed, and strong documentary evidence and personal testimony . . . which demonstrates not only why your relative is entitled to bond, but also why he deserves a low bond amount.
This is no simple chore.
At immigration bond hearings, the judge will ask your family member questions like:
- If you’re released, are you a danger to your community?
- Will you show up at your future immigration court hearings?
- What are your family ties in the United States?
- What does your criminal history show?
- Do you have a history of stable employment?
- Have you participated in any community organizations or events?
- What is your financial ability to pay a bond amount set by the court?
- What is your immigration history, including how and when did you enter the U.S.?
- Are you eligible for possible relief from removal and deportation?
Government attorneys often claim detained immigrants are flight risks, too dangerous to be released, or for various other reasons, do not deserve an immigration bond.
No matter how well your immigration bond hearing lawyer has presented your relative’s case, judges have wide discretion to set bond amounts. Two different detainees, even with relatively similar facts, may be given hugely different bond amounts by immigration judges.
The minimum amount is $1,500. But it can be, and has been, set at $20,000 or higher.
Each judge weighs certain bond factors more heavily than others. Normally, if a detainee has a criminal conviction history or committed immigration violations in the past, bond will be set at a higher amount.
The mandatory detention provisions are among the cruelest aspects of immigration law today.
As noted above, there is no guarantee your family member will get bond. Or released from immigration custody.
If he is classified by the government as an arriving alien, aggravated felon – or a terrorist – he will not be entitled to a bond hearing.
These are highly technical classifications with strict rules. You should never trust the government’s interpretation of these guidelines carte blanche.
After all, these categories have been the subject of numerous law suits, filed by immigration bond lawyers, seeking to protect immigrants denied their day in court.
For instance, immigrants who have been convicted of certain crimes are not eligible for bond under mandatory detention provisions. These include various drug and firearms offenses. In some cases, the detained immigrant may have only served three days in jail, paid a fine, and finished probation requirements over two decades ago.
When immigrants are detained, the government may charge them with a crime that results in mandatory detention.
Immigration Judges cannot release a person subject to mandatory detention . . .
. . . But they can hold a “Joseph Hearing” to determine whether immigrants’ convictions properly fall the mandatory detention provisions.
After all, the government could be mistaken. Or wrong under correct legal standards.
Maybe your family member was not placed under arrest or convicted because of the crime alleged by the government. Maybe he was guilty of the crime, but the crime is not the type which warrants mandatory detention.
Such cases can last months, even years, and require your bond hearing attorney to file an immigration appeal for your family member.
In such battles, with deportation on the line, nothing less than an experienced immigration bond hearing lawyer will be able to guide your relative in his fight against removal from the U.S.
(Note: A Joseph Hearing is based on a case known as Matter of Joseph.)
Immigration Detention Centers
During his nearly 20 year career, immigration attorney Carlos Batara has represented detained clients throughout California and across the United States on all sorts of hard immigration bond issues.
If you live in Southern California, your relative, once apprehended by immigration agents, will usually be sent to one of the following detention facilities:
Adelanto Detention Facility (CCA)
10400 Rancho Road
Adelanto, CA 92301
El Centro Service Processing Center
1115 North Imperial Avenue
El Centro, CA 92243-1739
San Diego Detention Facility (CCA)
446 Alta Rd
San Diego, CA 92158
San Pedro Processing Center
2001 S. Seaside Avenue
San Pedro, California 90731
Santa Ana City Jail
62 Civic Center Plaza
Santa Ana, CA 92701
If your relative lives in Arizona, once apprehended, he will normally be sent to:
Eloy Detention Center (CCA)
1705 E. Hanna Rd.
Eloy, AZ 85231
Florence Service Processing Center
3250 N. Pinal Parkway
Florence, Arizona 85232
Be aware, however, your relative could be sent anywhere. For example, San Bernardino clients could be sent to the El Centro ICE facilities. And there are times your family member might get moved to a different jail multiple times in multiple states, to detention centers in Arizona, Texas, or New Mexico.
Since the Department of Homeland Security continues to build new detention facilities and closes older ones, click here for the link for the complete list of currently-opened detention centers via the Online U.S. Immigration And Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention Facility Locator.