Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has money to detain approximately 34,000 immigrants at any give time across the United States. Many of the ICE detainees are poor, uneducated immigrants with no hope to stay in the country legally, attorney or not. But many detainees, with or without legal status, have been educated in the U.S., have jobs, families and clear eligibility for relief from deportation. They are not flight risks or dangers to the community and will show up in Immigration Court because they want to stay in the country.
Many detained immigrants are eligible to be released on a bond, however, some are subject to mandatory detention and are not eligible for release. Either way, every detainee should have an attorney look over their case to makes sure the ICE officers and attorneys have brought the right charges, filed the right documents and can prove the case.
Unfortunately, many detained immigrants cannot afford to hire an immigration attorney to represent them during the entirety of a removal case. That is because a complete removal case, which includes bond proceedings, removability arguments and relief from deportation trials, is time-consuming, complicated and expensive.
Because immigration attorneys are not allowed to represent a detained client for bond hearings only and ignore the removal case, detained immigrants have to pay large sums of money to hire an immigration attorney for the entire case. This creates a big problem in immigration court where detained immigrants cannot afford to hire an attorney for the entire case and sit in ICE detention, unable to successfully navigate the complexities of a bond hearing themselves.
Thankfully, this is about to change later this year. The Department of Justice, who runs the immigration courts, announced last week that a new rule would go into effect this December. http://www.justice.gov/eoir/file/772051/download
This new rule would allow immigration attorneys to appear solely for bond proceedings and not have to represent clients in the removal portion of the case. Of course clients can hire an attorney to do both, but attorneys who appear for bond hearings for detained clients would not be forced by immigration judges to stay in for the entire case.
This will allow immigration attorneys to charge clients for just the bond hearing portion of the case. Bond hearings are much less expensive than the removal case. Many immigrants will be able to pay a smaller amount of money, secure an attorney and hopefully a bond, get released and then fight their case on the outside.
This will give real access to attorneys for a great number of detained immigrants whose families do not want to commit to paying an attorney for an entire case when their loved one may never get out and never be able to help pay for the attorney.
This is the type of immigration reform that both sides can agree on.
If you have a loved one who is detained by ICE, call a qualified and experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible to learn about possibilities for release and relief from deportation.