Know Your Rights if You, a Friend, or a Family member is Detained by ICE

When you, a friend, or a family member has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the whole process. You may be uncertain about how to handle the immigration authorities, how to find your detained loved one, or how to get through the legal process without making any mistakes. The first thing you should keep in mind: don’t panic. Read up on these essential tips to better understand a detainee’s rights in immigration detention.

1) Locate the detainee.

If you are the friend or family member of someone who has been detained by immigration, you will first need to find out where they are being held. You can start by using the ICE detainee locator website, which will require information about the person like their Alien Number or date of birth, the exact spelling of their name and country where they were born. Make sure you don’t give the immigration officers any information besides your relationship to the detainee. Anything you say about their immigration status can be used against your friend or loved one.

If the person is not in ICE detention but instead was arrested by the police, you can call the jails and correctional facilities in your area to locate the person. Here you will also be able to find out if there is an immigration hold on the person, which means that they will likely be transferred to ICE for detention.

2) Stay silent.

You should not say anything to immigration officers, except to ask to make a call to speak to a lawyer. Otherwise, don’t say anything about your home country, your citizenship, or your immigration status in the United States. Likewise, don’t sign any documents the officers put in front of you. You could end up waiving (or giving up) your right to a deportation hearing.

3) Call an attorney ASAP.

In Immigration you don’t have the right to a free lawyer, but you can ask the officers to give you a list of pro-bono legal service providers. You can also call a private lawyer just make sure the lawyer you call particularly focuses on immigration law. A highly experienced attorney, like the ones at Rotella & Hernandez, can protect your rights and support you throughout the detention process and can make a world of a difference.

4) Get medical care if you need it.

If you have a medical condition and you need regular care, make sure you ask for it right away. If you take medication, for example, ICE should provide it at no cost to you. If your medical needs are not being met your attorney can make sure the authorities give you the medical treatment you need.

5) Review any offers from the deportation officer.

As a detainee, you will be assigned a deportation officer. The officer may offer you a way out of detention, like voluntary departure or stipulated removal. Either of those options would mean that you have to leave the United States, so make sure the offer is right for your situation. Being detained can make you feel vulnerable and desperate. Don’t give up without first consulting with an immigration attorney as there are many ways that you can petition to stay in the United States. Before you sign anything have your lawyer tell you whether an offer will benefit you or work against your best interests.

6) Consider your options for relief.

The deportation officer may not mention your other options, so it’s important to review them with your attorney. You may be able to pursue relief from deportation in one of many different forms, like Asylum, Withholding of Removal, Temporary Protected Status, Cancellation of Removal, and more.

7) Find out if you can pay a bond.

When your friend or relative is in an immigration detention facility, you may want to help them get out. The detainee may or may not be eligible for a bond, which is similar to “bail” in criminal law. Bond is set as a guarantee that the detainee will cooperate with the court process and appear at all scheduled hearings.

Some detainee’s depending on their own individual circumstances may be given bond by ICE. If the bond is too high or bond is denied by ICE an attorney can petition to have the bond amount or the bond denial reviewed by an Immigration Judge. Depending on the person’s individual circumstances the Immigration Judge may grant a bond and allow the person to be released from custody.

8) Know when to ask for help.

Depending on the situation, your immigration case can take months or years. Make sure you don’t go through it alone. Contact the skilled attorneys at Rotella & Hernandez for focused, compassionate support throughout the detention proceedings. We are highly knowledgeable in the fields of immigration and family law. We understand what you’re going through, and we are committed to making the process easier on you.

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