Deportation i.e., removal proceedings is not usually a pleasant situation. The fears and concerns that usually arise during deportation proceedings are usually exacerbated by the issues of fear, non-eligibility for relief from deportation and possibly detention. The procedures of deportation are usually so foreign and harsh that most detained individuals usually choose to be expeditiously deported before going to court simply to escape the harsh conditions of being detained in jail with criminals. The fear of deportation is so great that most individuals are deported without first exhausting their avenues of relief. This article will provide a brief overview of deportation proceedings in order to educate anyone who is faced with removal court.
The first step is to know that time is crucial when an individual is detained. In Georgia, most individuals are detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement i.e., “ICE” because they were initially arrested for a traffic citation or a criminal matter. Once that individual is arrested the arresting officer usually questions the detained individual to find out if he/she is a citizen of the United States. If it is determined that the individual is a non-citizen an “ICE” hold is placed on that individual’s case. An “ICE” hold means that once the detained individual’s criminal/traffic citation case has been resolved the detained individual must remain in jail until ICE picks up the individual and transports said individual to an ICE jail facility. Once the individual is in ICE’s custody, the individual will be assigned an alien number, and an ICE officer will be assigned to that individual.
The duty of an ICE officer is to determine the immigration status of the detained individual. The ICE officer will make a determination based on questioning the detained individual, the individual’s documentation and the individual’s immigration history (if any). If the officer determines that the detained individual does not have legal immigration status then the officer may choose one of four options. First, the officer may issue and serve the notice to appear on the court so that the court can schedule a court hearing. Second, the officer may issue an immigration bond for the detained individual. An immigration bond allows the detained individual to be released from jail during the pendency of his/her removal hearing. Third, if there is a prior order of deportation then the officer will make arrangements for the detained individual to be expeditiously removed from the United States. A detained individual who has a prior order of removal is subject to immediate removal from the Unites States without first proceeding to a court hearing. Fourth, the officer may request that the detained individual waive his/her rights to a court date and agree to accept voluntary return to his/her home country. All options that prevent an individual from first proceeding to Immigration Court should be avoided.
Once an individual is detained the individual’s loved ones must act quickly if the detained individual wishes to proceed in court. Many of my clients can attest to the fact that it is very confusing and disconcerting to know that their loved one is detained but they are unable to locate their family member. Unfortunately, this scenario happens quite often. Therefore, once your loved one is detained the first step is to try and locate the individual at the ICE jail to obtain the detained individual’s alien number. Some individuals have a prior alien number because they have an immigration history. If the detained individual has never been assigned an alien number then an alien number will be assigned. The alien number is extremely important because each detained individual has an ICE officer assigned to his/her case. This ICE officer is your only point of contact with ICE regarding your loved one. Detained individuals are assigned an officer based on the individuals’ alien number. It is also important know that the alien numbers are usually assigned only when the individual is in ICE’s custody and not the State’s jail. Therefore it is a waste of time to try to ascertain the individual’s alien number and the assigned ICE officer’s information from the State’s jail.
Second once you have located the detained individual it is important communicate with your loved one that he/she should not sign any paperwork or agree to be removed from the United States without first appearing before an Immigration Judge. It is also important to ascertain from the detained individual, the jail or the officer if there is a bond. If there is no set bond you loved one should request a bond hearing. Once your loved one proceeds in court it is important to quickly determine if your loved one is eligible for any relief from deportation.
Finally, it is important to remember that the Immigration officials i.e., the immigration judge, deportation officer, jail personnel and the government’s attorney represent the interest of the U.S government and not your loved one’s best interest. It is important to determine your avenues of relief, (if any), before proceeding to court.
If you or your loved are scheduled to appear before the Atlanta Immigration Court you are eligible to receive a complimentary analysis of your case. Please send your inquiries to [email protected].
About the Writer:
Safiya Byars is a senior immigration attorney in Norcross, Georgia. She is a native of Jamaica and has personal experience with the difficulties of maneuvering the Immigration system. Safiya Byars has served as the senior immigration attorney with boutique immigration firms in both Alabama and Georgia. To discuss your case, please contact Attorney Byars at 404-992-6506 or via email.