As a Miami immigration lawyer, I am noting with alarm that the U.S. government is using detention with increasing frequency as a means of dealing with undocumented or otherwise removable immigrants after their arrest. When a friend or loved one has been placed in detention, it can be difficult to try to discover information on the person’s whereabouts. Below are some frequently asked questions.

Why does the U.S. government detain immigrants?

There are many reasons why someone can be detained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its enforcement arm, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These include, but are not limited to the person having:

  • committed a crime, or multiple crimes
  • arrived at the border without a visa prior to formally applying for asylum or refugee status
  • an outstanding removal (deportation) order on record, either pending or past due, or
  • missed prior immigration hearing dates.

Please note that even though we are a little over 100 days into this administration, it is very clear that immigration enforcement has become a priority. There has been a marked rise in immigration detainees, some of whom don’t fit the profile listed above. Immigration priorities have changed within the United States, and all immigrants – undocumented or documented – should take note. If you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to consult with a Miami immigration lawyer.

A loved one has been detained. What do I do?

When you first find out that someone you know is in detention, your first step should be to call a Miami immigration attorney or Miami immigration lawyer.

You can also potentially find out the person’s location using the ICE detainee locator website. It will help to have the person’s Alien Number (A#) on hand, if any. (A green card or work permit will show this number.) Otherwise you’ll need to know the person’s date of birth, country of birth, and name as it appears in the ICE’s system. You might need to try different names or different spellings of names. If you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.

Why can’t I find the person’s information in ICE’s system?

Unfortunately, if the person was only recently detained, the website may not be updated with the latest information. Also, the system does not give information for people under 18 years of age. In such cases, you’ll need to contact the ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations field office nearest you. If you have any questions in regard to this, please contact a Miami immigration lawyer.

I have determined that the person is not an in ICE-operated detention facility. What’s the next step?

If the person is not in ICE-operated detention facility, he or she may have been taken to a local jail or correctional facility. You’ll want to start calling all the ones in the area. Explain who you are, and ask for information on what’s going on and how to visit or help.  If you have any questions in regard to this, you should speak with a Miami immigration attorney.

I have determined that the person has been detained in an ICE facility. What’s the next step?

If the detainee is located in an ICE facility, you may want to contact a Miami immigration lawyer. You Miami immigration lawyer will try to call his or her deportation officer and explain who he/she is  and his/her relationship with the detainee. Your Miami immigration attorney can assist you in tracking down the deportation officer and maintaining lines of communication. Also, if the detainee requires regular medical care, your Miami immigration lawyer can ensure he or she receives that care.

Is it urgent when an immigrant gets detained?

In a word, yes. It is important to act quickly, especially if the detainee has been deported from the U.S. previously or has an outstanding removal order (in which case he or she has no right to see an immigration judge). A detainee can be removed within a few days, or even hours, of the initial detention. Even if the government does not immediately remove the person, it sometimes transfers detainees between facilities – sometimes in other states, if the person appears to have no immediate family in the area – without warning. If you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.

If you would like more information on  deportation defense, obtaining  U.S. citizenship, or obtaining a green card, please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at www.mmurraylaw.com.