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My Loved One is in ICE Custody on a Detainer. Now What?

So, your loved one has been arrested and for a criminal charge and ICE has placed a detainer on him. What happens now? Well, the immigration case will not start until the criminal case is over. ICE simply places a detainer on the individual, which means that once the criminal case is over, ICE will be notified by the authorities that the individual is about to be released. ICE then has 48 business hours to take the individual into ICE custody for the immigration case. (This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do anything until after the criminal case is over. Often the immigration case will be concluded in a very short time period, so it may be important to start retrieving important documents, information, and evidence well before the immigration case starts).

Once the criminal case is over, ICE will visit the individual and issue that person a Notice To Appear (NTA). An NTA will notify the individual of the allegations and charges related to the immigration case. The individual will then go before an Immigration Judge for a Master Calendar Hearing. At that Master Calendar Hearing, the Immigration Judge will ask the individual whether he admits or denies the allegations and whether he admits or concedes the charges. If the individual admits all allegations and charges, the Immigration Judge will find the individual removable/deportable. The Immigration Judge will then ask the individual if they are going to file for any forms of relief. For example, the individual may be eligible for Cancellation of Removal, Withholding of Removal, Convention Against Torture relief, Asylum, certain waivers, or other forms of relief. The individual will then have the burden to prove that he or she is eligible for the form of relief by filing a complete application along with documentary evidence. After the application is filed, the individual will have an Individual Hearing, which is much like a bench trial, in front of the Immigration Judge. At the conclusion of the Individual Hearing, either at that hearing or at a subsequent hearing, the Immigration Judge will render a decision on whether the individual is granted the form of relief.

Regardless of the Immigration Judge’s decision, the individual may have further options. For example, if the Immigration Judge orders the individual removed from the United States and denies all forms of relief, the individual can appeal the Immigration Judge’s decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The individual also may file for a Stay of Removal.

Immigration Court is a very complex arena filled with pitfalls for those that are not properly trained and educated. People are often taken advantage of by inexperienced and/or unethical “notarios,” lawyers, and others. It is important to find a lawyer that has the proper experience and education in immigration law.