Loved One Detained By Immigration? Here's What You Need To Know.

If your loved one has recently been detained by immigration authorities the first issue to address is whether he or she is eligible for a bond.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement will assign an immigration officer to the detainee’s case, who will determine whether or not to set a bond.  However, some individuals will not qualify for release from detention because they are ineligible for bond under the Immigration and Nationality Act.  The most common reasons that one would be ineligible for bond include: felony conviction for crime involving moral turpitude, conviction for a drug or firearm offense, or conviction for a violent crime.

If mandatory detention does not apply then ICE can set a bond, or refuse to issue a bond, and the detainee will usually be calendared for a bond hearing before the Immigration Judge.  Often the bond amount set by ICE will be high, and it will be necessary to request a hearing for bond redetermination before the Immigration Judge.  The length of time for the bond hearing to occur varies, but typically can take one to three weeks.  If you immediately retain an attorney to file a motion for a bond hearing, the hearing is likely to be scheduled sooner. 

At the bond hearing, the detainee will have to demonstrate to the Immigration Judge that they are not a danger to the public and will appear for all scheduled hearings. This can be done by presenting evidence of family ties to dependent lawful residents, employment, and ties to the community. Individuals that are eligible for relief from removal generally have a better chance of receiving a bond.  Having a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, child or immediate relative usually increases one’s chances of being eligible for relief from removal.

The lowest amount of bond that the Immigration Judge can set is $1,500.  Typically, if an individual has convictions for offenses such as Driving Under the Influence, misdemeanor offenses, or multiple offenses for driving without a license, the Immigration Judge may increase the bond amount.  Most local bondsmen do not cover immigration bonds, but there are some that operate nationwide.  They will expect to receive a non-refundable payment of at least 10 to 15 percent of the total bond in addition to sufficient property as collateral to cover the remainder.

Bond hearings are held at the Immigration Court in you region and some are also accessible via televideo conference. The person setting the bond should make sure they are certain that the detainee will appear at all scheduled immigration hearings, because if they fail to appear the bond money will likely be forfeited.  The Immigration Court will return the bond to the individual who posted it at the conclusion of the immigration proceedings or the departure of the detainee.

 Overall, the immigration bond process is complicated and can be intimidating to those who are unfamiliar with the law.  You should consult with an experienced immigration attorney to develop a strategy to pursue your loved one’s release.