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Person Detained by Immigration Officer

Immigration Arrest: What Should You Do?

The Torres Law Firm June 30, 2022

If you or a loved one has been detained by immigration officials, you need to know immigrant rights under federal law and how to exercise them. The best advice is not to say anything or sign anything if you are a detainee. You need to contact an immigration attorney to help exercise your rights or contact a relative or close friend to seek legal aid for you. Meanwhile, keep quiet and sign nothing.

Laws and legal protections vary based on where you are arrested or detained. If you are arrested or detained at a border crossing or at an airport, your rights might be fewer than if you are arrested at home, at work, on the street, or after a traffic stop.

Nonetheless, certain actions you can take – or avoid – if you are arrested or detained remain the same regardless of location.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or detained by immigration officials in or around Corpus Christi, Texas, contact the immigration attorneys at The Torres Law Firm. We are experienced in all aspects of immigration law and can fight for your rights as well as help prevent you or your loved one’s removal from the United States. We also proudly serve clients in and around Dallas and Fort Worth.

Reasons for Immigrant Detention

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents generally will detain an immigrant because they believe that person poses a “flight risk” or represents a threat to public safety. Arrest and detention often result from the immigrant having:

  • Committed one or more crimes

  • Arrived at the border without a visa prior to formally applying for asylum or refugee status

  • A pending removal order or proceeding on record

  • Missed prior immigration hearing dates

Even under what some call the Biden administration’s “open border” policy, immigrants are still subject to detention and removal, so it is essential to understand the law and the steps you should take as an immigrant to protect yourself and your freedom to remain in the United States.

Your Rights If Detained

If you are being detained, your rights hinge largely on the reason for your detention. You may be subject to mandatory detention if you have been convicted of certain crimes and served time in jail and were released after October 8, 1998. This means that you cannot obtain a bond – a cash payment similar to bail – to secure your release.

If, on the other hand, you were convicted of a crime and did not serve time in jail but instead performed community service or probation or were given a conditional discharge, you can request what is called a “Joseph Hearing” to show that you are not subject to mandatory detention.

Crimes that can lead to mandatory detention include:

  • Two crimes of moral turpitude (CMT)

  • Aggravated felony

  • Controlled substance offense

  • Firearms offense

If you are not subject to mandatory detention, ICE will arrange a bond hearing before a judge, who will determine whether a release is justified, which usually means that you do not pose a flight risk or safety threat. At your hearing, if you have relatives to speak on your behalf, or you can show you have gainful employment and/or are married, prove you have a rental or housing unit you’ve leased or purchased, or submit evidence of rehabilitation, the odds of being released on bond increase.

Steps to Take If You Are Detained

The most important step if you have been detained as an immigrant is to contact an experienced immigration attorney to represent you. When you are taken in, your first statement should be to request to call an attorney. Unlike civil proceedings, the immigration judicial system will not provide you with a public defender. After that:

  • Don’t speak to anyone or answer any questions before you have an attorney to represent you.

  • Don’t sign anything. You may be asked to sign a “voluntary departure” document, which means you’ll be immediately removed from the U.S. without a hearing. A “stipulated order of removal” is another document they may thrust before you, which means you waive your rights to a hearing and a judge can immediately order your removal.

In most cases, immigration officials must decide within 48 hours whether to release you on bond, keep you in custody, or bring you before a judge for removal proceedings. After 72 hours, they must give you a Notice to Appear (NTA), which sets a date and time for you to appear for immigration proceedings.

Don’t Risk Your Future – Call Now

The odds are really stacked against you if you do not have legal representation in immigration proceedings. There is no provision requiring the government to hire an attorney on your behalf. You’ll be completely at your own mercy – and the mercy of the judge.

If you or a loved one in Corpus Christi, Dallas, or Fort Worth, Texas, has been detained for whatever reason, contact us immediately at The Torres Law Firm. Our brother-sister team of experienced and compassionate immigration attorneys will fight aggressively for all your rights under U.S. law.