If you or a family member has been detained or is facing deportation, you may be feeling frightened or overwhelmed. It is important to know that you are not alone and that resources are available to support you. The resources in this section provide an overview of what to expect if someone is detained or is experiencing a potential deportation, how to locate a loved one if they have been picked up or transferred to ICE, and more.
Please note that this information is general guidance, each case is unique and it is strongly recommended that you work with a lawyer as soon as possible under all of these circumstances to fully assess all legal options.
If someone you know or care about has been arrested or detained by ICE or transferred to an immigration detention center, locating them is the first step to supporting them. You can still find someone in detention even if they have not reached you by phone.
People arrested by ICE will first be processed by officers in an ICE Detention and Removal Office or a short-term facility (such as a county jail) for up to 72 hours. Then, they may be transferred to another place for a longer-term stay, often out-of-state. Some people may be transferred several times in the first few weeks. Transfers usually occur without notice to family members or lawyers.
Here is what you can do if ICE-DRO will not release the information of the person you are searching for.
If you are undocumented or have questions about your immigration status, you should immediately seek out an immigration attorney or a DOJ-accredited representative to represent and advise you. Immigration law is complicated, and an attorney can help you understand if you qualify for existing legal pathways, or if you should set up legal guardians for your children in case anything happens. It is estimated that 1.2 million undocumented people may be eligible for some form of immigration relief, so seek counsel.
Though we hope you never have to experience this first hand, if you are anticipating a potential detention, undergoing deportation, or have received removal orders, it is important to learn and be prepared with an understanding of institutions and tactics available to defend your case. This is a general overview of what to expect in a deportation process. This may not reflect all experiences, as each case is unique. It is strongly recommended that anyone experiencing detention work with an immigration lawyer.
If you or someone you know has been arrested by ICE, submitted a USCIS application that has been rejected, or filed for asylum, their claim for deportation relief will be determined by an immigration judge within the Executive Office of Immigration Review.
A removal proceeding is the formal legal hearing in which an immigration judge makes a decision about your immigration status. Even if the judge delivers an unfavorable ruling, you may still qualify for another type of deportation relief. If you or someone you know is undergoing removal proceedings, it is critical that you find a lawyer immediately to assess the individual case and see if there are other forms of relief available.
Immigration removal orders can come in two forms:
If you reserve the right to appeal, you get a 30-day stay of deportation while you file your appeal.
To figure out if you qualify for an appeal or a way to adjust your status talk to a lawyer immediately. Find more resources and materials on finding a trusted lawyer here.
The Administration’s Executive Orders from January 2017 directs the Department of Homeland Security to dramatically expand the use of “expedited removal” which empowers low-level immigration officers to quickly deport certain noncitizens who are undocumented or have committed fraud or misrepresentation. Examples of fraud or misrepresentation are:
Once an “expedited removal” is issued to a non-U.S. citizen they can be deported without any of the due-process protections granted to most other people—such as the right to an attorney and to a hearing before a judge. Given the speed at which the process takes place, there is rarely an opportunity to collect evidence or consult with an attorney, family member, or friend before the decision is made. If someone you know is experiencing an expedited removal do not panic and remember to act quickly to connect with a lawyer.
Contact a lawyer immediately if you think an expedited removal has been issued to someone you know.
If you are having issues finding your loved one or someone you suspect has been placed in immigration custody through USCIS and cannot locate them, you may reach out to that person’s consulate. Consular officers must protect their nationals. Consulates are required by law to be notified when one of their nationals is detained, and should be able to help you locate your loved one or friend. Look up country consulates here.
Many non-citizens in immigration detention are eligible for bond, unless they are subject to mandatory detention and thus “ineligible for bond.” If you are in immigration detention awaiting removal proceedings, you may request a bond hearing from the immigration judge either orally during your removal proceeding or in writing through a written motion. You can make an oral request for a bond hearing at your first scheduled court appearance, often referred to as your Master Calendar Hearing. If, however, you are in detention for longer than a few days without receiving a notice of a hearing, you can make a written request for a bond hearing.
Find a lawyer to review the details of your or a loved one’s case to determine if a bond is attainable. Find more resources and materials on finding a trusted lawyer here.
If a person’s case is very compelling, or you feel that there is nothing to lose, supportive elected officials and journalists can be instrumental in stopping deportations. Members of Congress should contact the ICE Field Officer Director directly to raise concerns around a deportation.
Even after a loved one is deported to their country of origin, there are still ways for you to support and care for them. It is critical that the deported person and their family members continue to receive financial and community support.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a deportation process, has been detained, or has removal orders, it can be emotionally overwhelming. If you are looking for emotional or spiritual support there are a list of people and places that can support you. It is critical that throughout the process you receive the emotional and spiritual support you need to confront the experience with the strength and attention it deserves. Find more resources and materials on emotional and mental health here.
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