As many people have already heard, starting this month U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are targeting for deportation families who have fled violence in Central America. How many people could be affected by the raids is unknown, but it could be hundreds or thousands. In the first weekend of January, Department of Homeland Security announced that 121 individuals were taken into custody primarily from Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina. Although there are legitimate concerns within the immigrant community, only certain families are actually affected by the ICE raids.
The raids are “focused on adults and their children who (i) were apprehended after May 1, 2014 crossing the southern border illegally, (ii) have been issued final orders of removal by an immigration court, and (iii) have exhausted appropriate legal remedies, and have no outstanding appeal or claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief under our laws.” Since the raids are limited to individuals who meet all these criteria, many undocumented immigrants are not affected.
Individuals who are currently in immigration proceedings are probably the most scared that these ICE raids may affect them because they are in the country illegally and ICE knows where they live. Actually these people should not be afraid. If you are in immigration proceedings and have a scheduled court date in the future then ICE is not going to come looking for you. ICE has no reason to apprehend individuals who are already in court proceedings since ICE only apprehends people to put them into court proceedings. In addition, if you were detained by ICE in the past but were released by a Judge, then ICE does not even have the jurisdiction to detain you again. The Judge ordered you released from custody and ICE cannot defy that order. ICE is looking to round up individuals who went to court and were ordered deported/removed, but then illegally remained in the US or illegally returned to the US.
So who should be the most concerned about the ICE raids?
- If you know you have a removal order from the past, then you should speak to an attorney to know what relief you may be eligible for.
- If you were in immigration court in the past and you are unsure what happened in your case, then you should speak to an immigration attorney who can tell you whether or not you have a removal/deportation order that ICE might be looking to enforce.
- If you were given papers by immigration or the court and you never went to your court hearing, then it is very likely you were ordered removed in absentia (in your absence). If you believe you may have missed an immigration court hearing, you should meet with an attorney to find out if you did and what options you have.
If you or your family member falls into one of the categories above, contact us for assistance.