Advice If You Are Stopped Or Detained By ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Do not lie to a federal officer. An ICE officer is a federal officer. Lying to a federal officer could constitute criminal obstruction of justice which could be considered an aggravated felony. A criminal conviction (such as an aggravated felony) is a potential ground for removal from the United States. The ICE officer has access to databases and other information to potentially determine your identity and your status, or lack of status, in the United States. A false claim of citizenship is one of the most serious offenses in the eyes of immigration, and will lead to deportation with no waiver available at all. You are better off saying nothing than telling a lie.
Keep important documentation with you (preferably not your passport). If you have a work permit or any other document from immigration authorities, always keep it with you in case you are stopped by ICE. If asked for your work permit, present it to the officer. If you have any documentation for a local address, keep it with you. If you obtained a green card, make sure you have it handy or else you could be subject to a $500 penalty along with the hassle of ICE trying to confirm your identity. Proof of residency, such as a state ID, may be critical if a bond determination is made by an Immigration Court.
Ask for a copy of any immigration documents, such as notices to appear or any other document relevant to your case.
Keep with you the telephone number of an experienced immigration lawyer, such as the lawyers at Hilf & Hilf, PLC. ICE and/or Immigration Courts are not required to provide you with a lawyer. When given the opportunity, take the opportunity to call an experienced immigration lawyer to help you. ICE usually will give you the opportunity to call an immigration lawyer or family member once you are booked. If you do not have an immigration lawyer, ask family members to immediately contact an experienced immigration lawyer on your behalf.
Give the family member your Alien Number so your immigration lawyer can find out where you are being held. Provide family members with the names of any immigration officers that you have had contact with.
Be careful about what you discuss over the telephone. Phones in jails and other detention facilities often are monitored. In many instances a recording of a phone conversation between someone incarcerated and his or her family member was the most damaging evidence presented by the government.
Do not sign any documentation without reviewing and understanding it first. There are instances of aliens who unknowingly sign documentation that leads to his or her removal from the United States and the imposition of a bar from returning which could have otherwise been avoided. There have been instances where ICE has misrepresented documents presented for signature to the alien in order to expedite his or her removal from the United States. Ask for an interpreter who speaks your language (and your dialect if applicable) to translate any conversations with ICE and documents which they provide you with or want you to sign. You have a right to be provided with an interpreter to help you understand what is happening to you. Again, do not sign anything that you don’t understand.
When you meet with your lawyer be honest with him or her about your circumstances. The lawyer cannot help you if he or she has a false picture about what is happening. Speak with your lawyer about the details of your case only when you are in a private location.
A family member of an alien should have all of the following in case detention occurs:
Have money set aside to retain that lawyer if necessary. As previously stated, ICE will not provide a lawyer concerning immigration related issues. A lawyer will not work for anyone based only upon a promise to pay in the future.
Maintain a copy of any paperwork and immigration related information. Make sure that you maintain a copy of the family member’s Alien Number, passport, travel documentation, visas, any green card, birth certificates, criminal history (if any), employment verification (if authorized to work), school verification (if any) to provide to his or her attorney. Again, it is critical that this information is reviewed by an experienced immigration attorney who will make a determination as to what (if anything) should be presented to ICE and/or Immigration Court. Depending upon the person’s circumstances, presenting the wrong information can expedite a person’s removal rather than prevent it.
If retained, the immigration lawyer will have access to your family member at the jail or detention facility in which he or she is housed within a reasonable time. An experienced immigration lawyer can convey any messages that you have, discuss with your loved ones all available options and pursue those options, and help reduce the overall stress and anxiety of you and your family members have with the comfort that the case is being pursued in a proper and effective manner.
An experienced immigration lawyer, when armed with sufficient documentation, will provide the best possibility to clear up any misunderstandings that exist in order to have the family member released. Bear in mind, in some circumstances (such as when the alien was convicted of a serious felony) a bond will not be granted. When a bond is possible, the experienced immigration lawyer is in the best position to try and obtain a reasonable bond for the release of your family member. The Immigration Judge will always consider the person’s risk of flight and danger to the community when setting a bond. An experienced immigration lawyer, when armed with information to quell any concerns the Court may have, has the best chance of convincing the immigration Judge that a reasonable bond is warranted.
If bond is denied, an experienced immigration lawyer can help bring the issues before an Immigration Court as quickly as possible to, hopefully, reach a resolution to prevent or delay removal from the country and obtain the freedom of the detained individual.
If removal from the United States is inevitable, an experienced immigration lawyer may be able to reach an accommodation for the individual to get their affairs in order before leaving. It also may be possible to negotiate for their earliest possible lawful return of your family member to the United States at some time in the future.
Hiring the right Immigration lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you make for yourself and your family. There are many lawyers who claim to do more than what they are able - just as there are many surgeons in the world that are no better than butchers. Do not settle for a legal hack job. Practicing law is a skill that develops over time with experience, commitment, dedication, and God given talent. There are no amateur attorneys at ** Hilf & Hilf, PLC** – only professionals that are guided by the humanity in the individuals we serve, and the drive not to settle for what is easy over what is right.