Over 100,000 people were arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2017, and that number is likely to increase in the coming years. Fortunately, there are options available if you or a loved one have been detained by ICE.
In particular, a successful bond hearing can help give you the time to gather a solid defense for your case.
In this article, we’ll talk about what a bond hearing is, and how you can request one. We’ll also go over strategies for improving your chances of receiving a bond order.
However, keep in mind that no article will ever be a substitute for an experienced immigration lawyer. If you or a loved one have been detained by ICE, always contact legal counsel as soon as humanly possible.
What is an Immigration Bond Hearing?
When ICE detains a person, they may decide to set a bond for that person’s release. If they do so, you can free them from ICE’s custody by paying the requested amount of money at their local ICE ERO Bond Acceptance Facility.
If you find yourself detained by ICE, you should take steps to bail yourself out immediately. You may do so through a money order or check addressed to the Department of Homeland Security.
Be wary of possible fraud, and keep in mind that ICE will only ask you to post a bond in-person at an ICE ERO Bond Acceptance Facility.
If ICE declines to set a bond, or if you cannot afford the bond they set, you may need to ask an Immigration Judge to review your case. This judge has the power to revise ICE’s original bond amount into something that better fits your situation.
This process occurs in a proceeding commonly referred to as an immigration bond hearing. At this hearing, you will argue your case to the Immigration Judge for why they should lower or remove your bond amount.
Who is Eligible for Receiving a Bond Order?
In most cases, the Immigration Judge has full discretion over your case when determining whether or not you are eligible for bond.
However, they legally cannot grant you bond if any of the following are true:
- You are an “arriving alien.” This refers to individuals who were detained while entering the U.S.
- The government placed you in removal proceedings for terrorist activities.
- You committed a serious crime while in the U.S. such as drug distribution or assault.
What Will Happen at My Immigration Bond Hearing?
At your bond hearing, an Immigration Judge will review the circumstances of your case. If you are eligible for a release, the judge will then decide whether or not to grant you bond.
In this process, the judge will consider the following two factors:
- Whether or not you are a danger to the community.
- Whether or not you are a flight risk.
If the judge decides that you are not a danger to the community, and unlikely to flee, they will set your bond amount. This will always be at least $1,500, but can be much more in certain cases.
Proving you aren’t a Danger to the Community
When deciding whether or not your release poses a danger to the community, judges will often base their ruling on your criminal history. Evidence for this ruling can include:
- Your criminal record, if any (both arrests and convictions).
- Any criminal history you voluntarily disclose in court, outside of your written criminal record.
- Any testimony presented by third parties.
In order to have the best chance of receiving a bail order, try to focus on the story of your rehabilitation. Avoid arguing against the verdicts, or otherwise re-litigating your previous cases.
Proving you aren’t a Flight Risk
A judge will determine your flight risk status by looking at the reasons you have for staying on their radar. If it looks like you have no solid ties to the area, they may decide to deny your bail.
Here are a few common factors the judge may consider:
- Whether or not you have a permanent local address. Judges are more likely to grant bail to individuals who own property or have long-term leases in the U.S.
- Whether or not your family lives locally. If you have a family member who is a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S., the judge might also take that into account.
- If you have a history of failing to comply with court orders.
- Your ties to your local community, such as employment or organization membership.
It’s in your best interests to provide documentation to the court of any of the evidence listed above. Examples include marriage certificates, pay stubs, lease agreements, and records of organization membership.
Detention by ICE is a very serious situation that could result in your removal from the country. To avoid this, contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
By working with an experienced immigration lawyer, you can improve your chances of receiving bail. This will allow you to focus on building a strong case for your later defense against removal.