When a friend or loved one who is also an immigrant in California has been detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), there can be confusion as to what friends and family should do to help the immigrant after being detained. The following will help explain why an immigrant may have been detained by ICE, steps to take after an immigrant has been arrested, and how to assist in an immigrant being released from jail while they await their hearing in immigration court.
Reasons an immigrant can be detained in California – ICE typically detains immigrants in California if they are considered harmful to the public, a threat to national security or thought to be a flight risk. Furthermore, immigrants who are likely to be detained by ICE are responsible for one or more of the following: committing crime within the United States, having an outstanding deportation removal status, missing immigration court hearings or arriving at the U.S. border without a visa and not having applied for refugee status or asylum.
Steps to take after an immigrant is arrested in California – If you have recently found out that an immigrant friend or family member has been detained by ICE in California, the first thing to do is locate where that person is. Ice has a “Detainee Locator” on their website that can be used to search for an arrested immigrant by their alien number and country of birth or by the arrested alien’s first name, last name, country of birth and their date of birth (optional). If you are unable to locate the detained immigrant using the detainee locator, it may be because the alien is under the age of 18 and therefore cannot be listed or the immigrant was recently detained in California and has not yet been processed.
Once you have located the detained immigrant, you will want to contact his or her deportation officer to ask what you will have to do to get needed items to your friend or family member and how you can call or visit the detainee. If the deportation officer does not wish to cooperate with you or speak to you, you have the option of hiring an immigration lawyer who can help you not only locate the detained immigrant in California, but also keep lines of communication open between you and your loved one.
How to help a friend or family member who is an immigrant detained in California – After you have located the arrested alien, understood why they have been detained and have been able to communicate with the detained immigrant, it is now time to bond them out if possible. You will need to know what type of bond the detained immigrant is eligible for and the amount the bond is fixed at. This is usually set by an ICE agent and/or immigration judge depending on the circumstances.
If you have the ability of paying the bond in full via cash, money order or cashier’s check, the detained immigrant will be released to spend time with friends and family and seek legal counsel from an immigration lawyer before being required to appear in court.
If you are unable to pay the bond in full to ICE, there are California immigration bail bond agencies available to assist in the release of the detained alien for an average fee of 15-20% of the total bail bond amount.