In 2016, there were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants. While there are many reasons behind illegal immigration, one fact is clear — immigrating to the U.S. isn’t easy, no matter which country you’re from.

If a loved one wasn’t able to receive sponsorship for residency, they may feel they have no choice but to stay in the U.S. undetected.

Unfortunately, there’s a chance they will get caught by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or the ICE.

If your loved one was put in an immigration detention center, it’s difficult to know what to do. Read this guide and know how to support them.

When the ICE Will Detain an Immigrant

Keep in mind, not all immigrants risk detainment. If your loved one was arrested, it’s important to understand why.

Here are a few reasons why they were detained by the ICE.

  • They pose a safety risk
  • Believe they move throughout the U.S. to “hide from the government”
  • Arrived at the border without a visa and didn’t apply to receive refugee or asylum status
  • Committed one or more crimes while on U.S. soil
  • Missed an immigration hearing date
  • They have an outstanding removal order (also known as deportation), including a pending or past due order

The reason immigrants are put into detention is so the government knows their whereabouts and can secure their appearance prior to the court order or deportation.

What You Can Do If Your Loved One Is in an Immigration Detention Center

It’s scary when a loved one is in a detention center. It’s impossible to know their outcome and they cannot leave without a proper order. This doesn’t mean you can’t do anything for them or to expedite the process.

Here are steps to take when a loved one is in an immigration detention center.

Find Your Loved One

There are multiple immigration detention centers around the U.S. If you haven’t heard from your loved one, you’ll have to find which center they’re in.

You can easily do this by visiting the ICE detainee locator website. If you know your loved one’s alien or green card number, you can search for them this way.

You can also search for them using their legal name, country of birth and date of birth.

Keep in mind, the website may not have their location immediately after detainment. You may also not find your loved one on their website if they’re under 18 years old.

If you have no luck locating your loved one online, you’ll have to contact the nearest ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations office near you.

Your loved one may also be in a local jail or correctional facility before they enter the detainment center.

Contact a Deportation Officer

A deportation officer is an officer who works within U.S. immigration law to find and arrest unauthorized immigrants. The officer will help explain the next steps during your loved one’s detainment.

Through the officer, you’re able to contact and visit your loved one and send their belongings.

When contacting the deportation officer, explain who you are and your relationship to the detainee. The officer will help you understand your loved one’s arrest, their holding conditions, and the expected outlook after their arrest.

It’s best you contact an immigration attorney to communicate with the deportation officer. Anything said to the officer can be held against you and your loved one in court. Which leads us to our next point…

Hire an Attorney

There are many benefits in hiring an attorney after your loved one was detained.

If you can’t track down your loved one or their deportation officer, an attorney will help you find where your loved one is being held and can help find the officer who arrested them.

When you contact the deportation officer, the attorney will be the line of communication between the officer and you.

An attorney will also help make it easier to contact and visit your loved one. Contacting an attorney is beneficial if your loved one has specific needs, such as medical care.

Keep in mind, an attorney is expensive and you may be in debt.

Get an Immigration Bond

Some detainees are eligible for an immigration bond. You can pay their way out of the detention center and they can stay with you until their court date.

First, you’ll have to apply for an immigration bond.

You do this by requesting one from the immigration judge. You can request one during the immigration hearing or through a written notice. Visit this useful resource for more information about the immigration bond application process.

When will your loved one not be able to receive a bond? Your loved one may not be an arriving alien or have committed a serious crime on U.S. soil.

What If Your Loved One Has to Be Deported?

No one likes the thought of deportation. Unfortunately, if this is what you’re expecting, it’s best to be prepared.

First, you can defend your case in court. Here, you can request any relief documents. If your loved one can’t find relief, the deportation or arrest process will occur.

If the judge decides for deportation, they will request a removal order. The removal order comes in one of two forms: the order is mailed to you or issued by an immigration officer.

In addition, if your loved one has one more hearing that you fail to attend, the judge can request a removal order.

You can file an appeal to the removal order. The judge will give you a 30-day window in case your appeal gets approved.

Keep in mind, this process can take months. During this time, your loved one will be kept in the detention center. If this is the case, a lawyer will help claim this is unconstitutional and will act to expedite the deportation process.

There’s Hope for Your Loved One

It’s difficult if your loved one is in an immigration detention center. But it’s important you act immediately so your loved one can receive relief.

The U.S. is constantly changing its immigration policies. Follow our politics section so you can keep up with new immigration laws and policies.

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