In fiscal year 2015, the U.S. government removed, or deported, 235,413 foreign nationals from the U.S. 65,539 of those removals were those removed within the U.S., and 91% of those interior removals were previously convicted of a crime. The total number of removals are down from previous years. For example in fiscal year 2012, the U.S. removed 409,849 foreign nationals. These numbers indicate that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) are working consistently with the administration’s enforcement priorities, which are to focus on removing those individuals that have criminal convictions, and other public safety concerns. These priorities have resulted in less removals and also less family disunity.
Although deportation levels are down, the prospect of being detained and removed by ICE is a distinct fear for many foreign nationals that do not have immigration status in the U.S. Many clients ask whether ICE will come to deport them once their visa expires. The answer is generally no. There are many different methods for coming into ICE custody. As discussed above, ICE focuses on detaining those with criminal convictions. So logically, ICE works with local enforcement authorities, to take those who are already detained, into their custody once they have served their time.
Once in custody, ICE can release a detainee on his or her own recognizance. ICE can also deny bond and hold an individual in custody. In the latter situation, an individual can ask an immigration judge to redetermine the bond in his or her case. Once the court sets a date for custody determination, an immigration judge will consider a number of factors in the case to determine a bond amount. For example, the judge may look at the individual’s family ties to the U.S., number of years in the U.S., potential relief from removal, and criminal record. However, certain individuals may be subject to mandatory detention despite having family in the U.S. or even having relief from removal. These individuals may be detained until the immigration judge makes a decision on the underlying removal case.
Detention, in general, is a scary event and it is very important that as soon as one is detained by any authority, that the individual retain an experience attorney to represent him or her. The outcome of a criminal case is the key to whether or not ICE will detain that individual, and whether that individual will have relief available to him or her.