As a Miami immigration lawyer, I often represent individuals who are already in immigration detention. The U.S. government is using detention with increasing frequency as a means of dealing with undocumented or otherwise removable immigrants after their arrest. If your loved one has been placed in detention, here are some frequently asked questions.

Why do the immigration authorities 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.

If you have any questions in regard to the above, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.

I have just learned that my family member is in immigration detention. What should I do?

If you have just learned that your family member is in immigration detention, you should consider contacting a Miami immigration lawyer immediately. However, there is some important information that may help your Miami immigration attorney when you speak with him/her. First, once you find out that your loved one is  in detention, you can 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.

Note – if the person was only recently detained, the website may not be updated with the latest information.

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.

Out of necessity, if the ICE officer refuses to speak with you, you may want to consider hiring an experienced Miami immigration attorney to assist you in tracking down the deportation officer and maintaining lines of communication. Also, if the detainee requires regular medical care, an attorney can ensure he or she receives that care.

If my loved one is in immigration detention, how important is it that I act quickly?

If your loved one is in immigration detention, it is very 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. Again, if you have any questions in regard to this, you may want speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.

What are the conditions like in immigration detention?

Immigration detention is not too different than jail or prison. ICE either operates the facilities independently or, increasingly, contracts with local sheriff or police departments to house detainees. Therefore, the physical layout of the facility, level of crowding, available amenities, and whether detainees are housed alongside state prisoners may vary widely.

Detainees who have medical conditions have the right to appropriate medical treatment at ICE expense. For example, if someone has recently had surgery and requires regular medication, ICE is supposed to provide this medication. ICE does not always follow through on its obligations, however. If ICE fails to provide such care, you should immediately contact a Miami immigration attorney who can advocate on the detainee’s behalf.

If you have any questions in regard to immigration detention or deportation, please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at www.mmurraylaw.com.