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When a Non-citizen is Detained by ICE: The Immigration Bond Process

jail.jpgThe latest round of strict immigrations laws enacted in states like Alabama and Arizona, present a legitimate fear for many residents of being placed in a detention facility and held there indefinitely. Many of these people have not committed any crimes, and although some detainees are undocumented residents, many are long term lawful permanent residents, noncitizens who overstayed a visa, and some may even be United States Citizens who are unlawfully detained. The Secured Communities Program, which has been adopted nationwide, has enormously increased the number of non-criminal or low level offenders who are stuck in detention facilities. At any time, there are over a thousand individuals detained within the Chicago Field Office District alone.

When a non-citizen is taken into custody, he or she can expect to be issued a Notice to Appear (or “NTA”), which is the beginning of the removal process. Once the NTA is issued, a custody determination is made by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). ICE will either release the noncitizen on his on recognizance, or detain him/her and set a bond. The initial bond is generally set very high; a $10,000 bond requirement is common. Unlike state criminal proceedings, in which a person can post a percent of the bond amount, an ICE bond must be paid in full before the detainee is released. Many families cannot afford the initial bond amount set by ICE, leaving the person in ICE detention while his or her court proceedings are pending or until he or she is deported. However, in certain circumstances, a detainee can get his/her bond re-determined and reduced by an Immigration Judge through the process of a Bond Hearing.

An experienced immigration attorney can help you determine whether or not qualify for a bond or a bond re-determination, and present your case before an immigration judge. Generally, people with little or no criminal background, and those who qualify for some type of relief from removal in immigration court are candidates for a bond reduction. The attorney will present a motion to the court for a bond re-determination and represent the detainee before an immigration judge at a Bond Hearing. Generally these hearings are conducted with the attorneys and Judge in the courtroom, with the detainee appearing by videoconference from the detention facility.

To be successful in reducing the ICE bond, the lawyer must demonstrate through evidence that the person is not a flight risk or a danger to the community. She will present evidence that the detainee has ties to people with legal status, a consistent work history, a long residence history in one place, and has been through or is will to go to rehabilitation if there is an apparent alcohol or drug problem. If successful, the bond will be lowered, and assuming the family can afford to post the new bond, the detainee will be permitted to return to his community and family pending his immigration court proceedings. The minimum bond in any case is $1,500.

If you or a member of your family are held by authorities and placed in ICE detention, it is important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The attorney will work with your family to determine whether or not your qualify for a bond and or bond reduction, and the best possible course to take to minimize your time in detention.