If a friend or a member of your family has been placed on ICE hold and classified as deportable, then you need to act right away or the person could be permanently removed from the United States.
Here are four steps to take now:
1. Find out where your friend or family member is being held.
When your friend or family member contacts you, get as much information as you can about where he or she is being held.
Immigrants who are detained at an airport such as George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) or Houston Hobby Airport (HOU) are often held in detention at the Houston Contract Detention Facility (Centro de Detención del Contrato de Houston). It is also possible to be detained at County Criminal Court or District Court.
Keep in mind that your friend or family member could be moved to different locations. ICE has provided a website, found here, that can be used to locate a friend or family member who is currently in ICE custody, or who was released from ICE custody within the last 60 days.
2. Tell your friend or family member not to sign or agree to anything.
Your friend or family member may be pressured into signing a document agreeing to be voluntarily removed from the country or pleading guilty to criminal charges in order to avoid jail time. Both of these actions are often huge mistakes and should not be taken without first talking to an experienced lawyer.
3. Contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
The ICE hold does not mean that your friend or family member can be detained forever. However, many people are detained for days or weeks at ICE detention facilities and jails if they do not have a lawyer fighting for their rights and getting the legal process started.
It's important to call an experienced immigration lawyer as soon as possible in order to increase the chances of your friend or family member being released from the detention facility and getting the removal canceled.
The Law Office of Mana Yegani in Houston, Texas, represents both documented and undocumented immigrants who have been placed on ICE hold and face removal. Call our offices at 832-391-8813 (24 hours, 7 days a week) or send a text message with your legal question to 832-391-8813.
4. Learn more about the legal process and what to expect.
Getting a friend or family member released on bond
In some cases, it may be possible to get your friend or family member released from ICE custody by asking for a bond hearing. Bonds are often set high, but your lawyer can argue for lower a lower bond amount. Whether or not a bond hearing will have a successful outcome depends on the skill level of your lawyer.
Your lawyer should submit evidence showing that your friend or loved one is eligible for a lawful adjustment of status and that he or she has good moral character. Your lawyer should also prepare your friend or loved one to testify at the bond hearing, which is often required.
Applying for Cancellation of Removal (deportation)
Non-Permanent Residents and Lawful Permanent Residents may apply to have their deportation (removal) canceled by an immigration judge after ICE has found ground for removal. The burden is on the person facing deportation to prove that he or she qualifies for cancellation of removal, and a lawyer can help greatly with this process.