Category Archives:Removal Proceedings

What to do if detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)?

What to do if someone you know is detained by ICE?

Things can move quickly once a person is detained.  ICE can arrest someone at their house, at their workplace, on the street, or they can place an “ICE hold” on those who are detained in a local jail for criminal or other proceedings.

If a person is being held by local authorities under an ICE hold, this typically means that once the criminal proceedings are complete, ICE will take them in to custody at a separate facility.  As soon as someone is placed under an ICE hold is the appropriate time to speak to an immigration lawyer and to start gathering documents.

Does the detained immigrant have a plan in place? Here is a good place to start with a preparedness plan.

What information do you need to gather?

  • The detained immigrant’s full name and date of birth
  • Where are they being held? The ICE detainee locator will help you find the person once in ICE custody.  But, before that, you will need to find out if they are in a local jail or facility and exactly where it is.
  • If the immigrant is already in ICE custody, see if they have an alien registration number (A#).


Information to prepare for a meeting with an immigration attorney

  • When did the immigrant come to the United States? How did he enter? Has he left?
  • What was the immigrant doing and where was he when he was detained?
  • Does the immigrant have a criminal history? If so, what are the dates and the convictions?
  • Has he or she ever been in immigration court before or were they ever detained at the border?
  • Has he or she ever been issued a removal order (deportation)?
  • Does the immigrant have any United States citizen or lawful permanent resident family members?
  • Has anyone ever filed a family petition for a relative?

Who decides whether a detained immigrant will be released?

ICE agents will make the first bond determination.  They can opt to release the immigrant on his own recognizance (no bond payment), they can set a bond, or they can deny bond.

If ICE denies bond, that is not the end of the road.  The detained immigrant may have an opportunity to request a bond from the Immigration Court.

How does the IJ decide whether or not to grant a bond?

The immigration judge is going to consider whether the immigrant is 1) a “flight risk,” meaning whether or not he is going to appear at future hearings or 2) a danger to the community.


What documents can you submit to show that the immigrant merits a bond?

  • Proof of US citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or children (birth certificates, marriage certificate, etc.) and proof of hardship they will suffer without him.
  • Proof of long time residence in the United States
  • Proof of paying taxes
  • Letters from employers, church members, family, and friends attesting to the good moral character of Immigrant.
  • Proof of eligibility for any relief – for example a family petition receipt or approval notice

Does the detained immigrant need an attorney?

An attorney can facilitate communication with ICE, provide information about the immigrant’s options, and can advocate for the immigrant in a bond hearing with the Immigration Court.

Cristina M. Hughes handles bond cases and bond (custody) hearings for immigrants detained in California, Nevada, and at the border.  Please call 775.453.4451 or e-mail to set up an appointment today.

Removal Proceedings/Immigration Court: Where to Start

What are Removal Proceedings?

Removal Proceedings means that the U.S. Government is seeking to remove you from the country.  Generally, you will receive a hearing notice through a letter in the mail.  The letter will provide the address for the Immigration Court as well as the date and time of the hearing.  When a notice to appear (NTA) is filed with the Immigration Court, this means that the government is outline the legal reasons why you should be removed from the United States.

What is going to happen at the hearing? Do you have to go? Do you need an attorney? What is going to happen at the end? Do you get to stay in the United States? These are all questions that can be answered by a qualified immigration attorney.

Removal Proceedings: Preliminary Hearings

The first kind of hearings are master calendar hearings.  There will be many people present and the judge will check with each person to see if they are represented by an attorney, what defenses they will be pursuing, and what the case status is. There will be an interpreter present to translate in case English is not your best language. If there are any deadlines, the Judge will make them clear. If you have an immigration attorney, she will be able to walk you through all of the steps and keep you informed of all hearings.

Removal Proceedings: Individual Hearings

Once all applications for relief are filed, the Immigration judge will schedule an individual hearing.  These hearings are scheduled a few months in advance to give you time to gather all supporting documents and prepare all witnesses in your case. At the hearing, you must present your case and demonstrate that according to legal standards, you qualify for the relief being sought. An experienced immigration attorney will identify weaknesses in the case and work to overcome them.

What happens next?

The Immigration Judge will either approve or deny the application.  If it is denied, you must appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals or you may have to leave the United States. An immigration attorney will be able to explain the process and keep you informed of any deadlines.

Do you need an attorney?

No, it is possible to represent yourself.  That being said, immigration attorneys are familiar with the removal proceedings and familiar with the legal defenses available.  Having an attorney can help ensure that you present the strongest case possible.

Steps to take when confronted with Removal Proceedings:

  • Gather information: Look for all of the documents that you have received that relate to immigration (including notices from USCIS) and put them together. Write down your history of travel in to and out of the United States. Write down your goals, questions and concerns.
  • Decide to fight and get help: Meet with an immigration attorney to assess your situation and see what options are available.  If you do not feel comfortable with the attorney or trust what they are telling you, get a second opinion. If you cannot afford an attorney, there are pro bono organizations that can help orient you. Once you know the options, you can decide on a strategy.
  • Go to your hearings! Even if you do not have an attorney, you MUST go to the hearing or else the Immigration Judge may order your removal in your absence.