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Immigration & Naturalization Law

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How Can I Help a Loved One in an Immigration Detention Center?

Immigration court proceedings don’t always take place right away. When someone is found in the country illegally, they may be placed in the custody of U.S. Immigration And Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

There are two strategies to remove a person who is in the country illegally from a detention center:

  • Probation or parole: This occurs if they just arrived in the country and went through customs control.
  • Bond: This occurs if they evaded customs control when entering the country, overstayed their visa, or failed to renew their green card.

You can use various tactics to find and help a loved one or family member being detained in an immigration detention center. Different rules may apply if they are a minor, a child without their parents, or other circumstances. Immigration law and the immigration judge determine how different situations are handled.

What Can I Do When I Find Out About the Arrest?

If your loved one was arrested and detained by ICE, you can enter their information on ICE’s website to find out where they are.

It helps if the detained person has an Alien Number (A #), which are found on work permits or green cards. If you do not have it, you will need the detainee’s:

  • Birthdate
  • Country of birth
  • First and last name

Also, you can find contact information on ICE’s website for field offices across the U.S.

What Does It Mean To Be a Sponsor?

A sponsor is a citizen or legal resident of the United States who:

  • Provides documents to ICE
  • Secures the release of a detainee
  • Receives that person at their home

ICE and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires sponsors to:

  • Include a physical address where they reside and can house the detainee
  • Provide basic necessities such as food, clothing, and occasional transportation
  • Receive notifications for the detainee related to their legal process

What Should I Include in My Letter of Support?

As a sponsor, you must write a letter detailing how you know the person and why they deserve to be released and remain in the U.S.

You must write the letter in English (it may be translated, but the translator must fill out a translation certificate).

Make it clear you intend to support the person you are seeking to sponsor. Mention you’ll provide secure transportation for future appointments and hearings related to the immigration case and all the positive characteristics of the detainee. In addition, it should include the following:

  • Identity document that shows your legal status in the country (passport, birth certificate, or green card)
  • Additional details regarding the community support available to ensure that the sponsored person will attend all future ICE check-in appointments, as well as future court hearings
  • Proof of your address (rent receipt, lease, or mortgage)
  • Proof of your income (copy of tax returns, payments, and bank deposits)

Suppose I Can Help Pay the Bail, Will I Be Able To Get My Money Back?

Yes, as long as the loved one you are sponsoring appears in court when they should. You can get the money back whether they are deported or receive permanent residence in the U.S.

If you only paid part of the bond and hired an agent to pay most of the amount, you should know how much the agent’s commission is. That money will not be refunded to you. You will need to attend a bond hearing and understand the terms of the bond.

What Permanent Legal Remedies Exist To Solve the Immigration Situation?

There are different options to achieve permanent resident status. An immigration attorney can review your loved one’s situation and discuss your options.

  • AsylumThis applies if the person was persecuted, tortured, or has a well-founded fear that this will happen. The persecution must have been based on belonging to a particular social group, political opinion, race, religion, or nationality.
  • Withholding of deportation: If the same conditions are met as those mentioned in the asylum case and future harm is more likely than not, they may be able to avoid deportation.
  • Convention Against Torture (CAT): This is available if the person suffered severe harm from government agents or the government was aware of the torture and was complicit.
  • Cancellation of removalIt takes 10 years of living in the United States, and your loved one will need to prove that removal from the U.S. will cause extreme and exceptional harm to an immediate family member, citizen, or legal permanent resident.
  • U Visa: This is a non-immigrant visa for victims and immediate family members of certain crimes cooperating with investigations.
  • T Visa: This visa allows certain human trafficking victims and immediate family members to stay and work in the U.S. temporarily, typically if they testify against perpetrators.
  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): For persons with three years of continuous presence in the country subjected to extreme cruelty by a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States who was a husband or father, it can be possible to stay in the U.S.
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