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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.

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Hughes Law Group PC

111 S. Division Street
Carson City, NV 89703