Let’s say you, or a loved one, has been apprehended by the immigration authorities without proper immigration documentation, and are subsequently placed in an immigration detention facility. As a Miami immigration lawyer, this is a very common scenario for many of my clients. As you can imagine, being in immigration detention is very stressful and traumatic for the detainee, as well as the detainee’s loved ones. How does one get out of immigration detention? Below are some frequently asked questions.

I have a family member who is in immigration detention right now. That family member is a non-citizen. Is she/he eligible for an immigration bond?

That depends. Many noncitizens in immigration detention are eligible for immigration bond – that is. This means that you or a family member has to put up a sum of money that you will receive back if they show up for all their court and other dates with U.S. immigration authorities. If you have any questions in regard to immigration bond, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer for more information.

Who is ineligible for immigration bond?

If you are subject to mandatory detention, you are ineligible for bond. In short, the criminal grounds of mandatory detention for people who are inadmissible to the United States include commission of:

  • a crime involving moral turpitude, unless the maximum sentence possible is one year or less and the actual sentence you received is less than six months OR if you were under 18 when you committed the crime, it was more than five years ago
  • multiple convictions where the combined sentences are five years or more of imprisonment
  • a controlled substance offense (any drug offense, including if the immigration authorities have reason to believe that you are a drug trafficker)
  • a prostitution-related offense
  • terrorist activity
  • significant human trafficking, and
  • money laundering.

For people who are deportable based on criminal convictions, the grounds of mandatory detention include commission of:

  • a crime involving moral turpitude where you were sentenced to more than one year in prison
  • two or more crimes involving moral turpitude
  • an aggravated felony
  • a firearms offense
  • a controlled substance conviction other than a single offense for possession for your own use of 30 grams or less of marijuana
  • drug abuse or addiction, or
  • espionage, sabotage, or treason.

Again, I would strongly advise that you speak with a Miami immigration lawyer to discuss your options if your family member is currently in mandatory detention.

How much is the bond amount, and who determines the bond amount?

The initial bond amount will be set by the Department of Homeland Security. Usually the minimum bond amount is $1,500. How high it’s set beyond that amount will depend on various factors in your relative’s case. ICE will consider, for example, the length of time your relative has lived in the United States, family ties in the U.S., his employment history, his criminal record, and his history of immigration violations. Again, if you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer to discuss your options.

Can I negotiate the bond amount if I feel that it is too high?

Your relative has the option of requesting that an Immigration Judge lower or change the amount. Such a request can be made in writing or orally. Some IJs will conduct a bond hearing at the same time and date as the initial Master Calendar hearing. The judge will then make a final bond determination. This amount cannot change unless the circumstances related to the noncitizen’s detention change. Again, I would advise you to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer if the situation above applies to you.

Can anyone pay an immigration bond?

An immigration bond can be paid by any person who is in the United States lawfully — a friend, relative or anyone else.

If you would like more information on immigration bonds, please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at www.mmurraylaw.com.