Detention and Bond Hearings
When a non-citizen is taken into Immigration & Customs Enforcement ("ICE") custody, he or she can expect to be issued a Notice to Appear (or "NTA"), which is the beginning of the removal process. Once the NTA is issued, ICE will make a custody determination. ICE will either release the non-citizen on his own recognizance, or detain him/her and set or deny a bond. The initial bond can be set very high; a $10,000 bond requirement is common, particularly in cases of past criminal convictions or multiple DUIs. Unlike state criminal proceedings in which a person can post a percent of the bond amount, an ICE bond must be paid in full before the detainee is released. Many families cannot afford the initial bond amount set by ICE, leaving the person in ICE detention while his or her court proceedings are pending or until he or she is deported. However, in certain circumstances, a detainee can get his/her bond re-determined and reduced by an Immigration Judge through the process of a Bond Hearing.
An experienced immigration attorney can help you determine whether or not you qualify for a bond or a bond re-determination, and present your case before an immigration judge. Generally, people with little or no criminal background, and those who qualify for some type of relief from removal in immigration court are candidates for a bond reduction. The attorney will present a motion to the court for a bond re-determination and represent the detainee before an immigration judge at a Bond Hearing. Generally these hearings are conducted with the attorneys and Judge in the courtroom, with the detainee appearing by video conference from the detention facility. During the hearing, the judge will consider a number of factors when deciding whether to allow you to be released on bond. It is very important that you have an attorney at this stage that can advocate for you because an unfavorable ruling by the judge might mean that you spend a long time in detention waiting for your case during which you will be unable to work or support your family. When deciding on bond, the judge will take into account:
- Your family connections in the United states
- Your ties to your community
- Your criminal history
- Whether you are employed
- Your ability to pay a bond
- How you came to be in the United States
- Any immoral acts you may have committed
- Your eligibility for relief from removal or other relief
To be successful in reducing your immigration bond, the lawyer must demonstrate through evidence that the person is not a flight risk or a danger to the community. She will present evidence that the detainee has ties to people with legal status, a consistent work history, a long residence history in one place, and has been through or is willing to go to rehabilitation if there is an apparent alcohol or drug problem. If successful, the bond will be lowered, and assuming the family can afford to post the new bond, the detainee will be permitted to return to his community and family pending his immigration court proceedings. In any case, the minimum bond is $1,500.
If you or a member of your family are held by authorities and placed in ICE detention, it is important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The attorney will work with your family to determine whether or not you qualify for a bond and or bond reduction, and the best possible course to take to minimize your time in detention.
Shelley Kalita has extensive experience in representing clients at their bond hearings and has a thorough knowledge of the law and rules surrounding the hearings. She can help you present your case to a judge and argue for a bond, allowing you to remain out of detention pending your trial.