Understanding the Process: ICE Holds

immigration lawThe Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a branch of the United States Department of Homeland Security, detains people either who are residing in the US without valid documentation or who have committed a crime while holding a green card or visa. Once ICE is involved, the challenges grow for the person detained, and for his or her family members. The individual faces criminal charges, usually in state court, and when that process runs its course, ICE takes over. Understanding what to expect, how to proceed, ICE’s goals and how the system works can help families deal with the turmoil of the removal process. By working with an experienced Nashville immigration lawyer, loved ones may develop a plan to keep the family member in the United States, legally.

When an ICE “hold” may arise

The goal of ICE is to remove persons who are illegally in the US or who have committed a deportable crime. The ICE hold process has been in the news because any person who is not a citizen of the US is subject to being held, usually where a crime has been committed. There are three common reasons a person may be subject to an ICE hold:

  1. The person is not in the US legally.
  2. The person has committed a deportable crime, regardless of legality of his or her entry to the US.
  3. The person has a legal order of removal on his or her immigration record.

Some challenges to ICE holds in the courts have proven successful.

The outcomes depend on the particular reason for the hold, but after the criminal proceedings and the sentence is served, he or she may be moved to federal custody and brought before an immigration court, potentially facing deportation. When a person entered the US legally but was convicted of committing a deportable crime, the outcome is similar: transfer to federal custody and immigration court. Finally, for those who were legally in the US but have a prior or pending removal order on their immigration record, federal custody and deportation proceedings result — without an immigration hearing.

Is there legal recourse once someone is in federal custody?

Just because a person is being held by ICE, is in federal custody, or is facing deportation proceedings does not mean the person will be forced to leave the US. Working with a knowledgeable and experienced immigration lawyer can, in many cases, ensure at the very least a fair trial in immigration court. Even in cases where a person has a deportation order on his or her record that has been rendered in absentia, he or she retains the right with legal counsel to request reopening of those removal proceedings. Release on bond for many circumstances is also available, although not for repeated or serious offenses.

What can I do?

The immediate and first concern should be determining where your family member or loved one is located: in local or federal custody or in a deportation center.

The US government maintains a website to assist in the locating of anyone on a deportation hold: https://locator.ice.gov/. In any event, your next step should be to seek legal counsel to assist in whatever proceedings are necessary, and maintain a line of communication for any litigation or changes.

Whether you or a family member is detained on an ICE hold or you need help with any aspect of immigration law, Nashville immigration attorney Perry Craft can help. To learn more about our services, or to schedule an appointment, call the Law Office of Perry A. Craft, PLLC, at 615-953-3808 or fill out our contact form.