What Happens When an Illegal Immigrant Is Detained

Close-up of sharp razor wire fence at sunset

The question of what happens when an illegal immigrant is detained remains at the forefront of national conversations and loved ones. Detaining someone is not just about the physical act. It involves a complex web of legal procedures and experiences that have far-reaching impacts. This blog explains the intricacies of this process, from the initial moment of detainment to release.

Why Do People Get Detained?

Before you understand what happens when an illegal immigrant is detained, you should have a firm grasp as to why. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement may detain someone if they:

  • commit a crime
  • overstay a visa
  • work without the required permit

Detaining illegal immigrants initiates a multifaceted legal process. It can happen through different avenues like:

  • routine traffic stops
  • employer checks and workplace raids
  • border patrol

What Happens in Detention?

After detection, you should understand the process of what happens when an illegal immigrant is detained. Here is an overview detailing the typical sequence of events that unfold when an individual who is residing in a country without legal permission is apprehended and placed in illegal immigrant detention.

1. Processing

After an arrest, individuals often find themselves in a detention facility for processing. This involves taking fingerprints and photographs and conducting thorough background checks against multiple databases. The aim is to uncover any criminal history or previous immigration violations that may impact the individual’s situation.

These facilities, whether operated by ICE, federal agencies, local law enforcement, or private contractors, can vary significantly in terms of conditions and length of stay. It’s crucial to understand the diverse experiences individuals may face within these different detention environments.

Detention facilities are a crucial part of the immigration process, yet the conditions within them often raise immediate concerns. From inhumane conditions to dedicated immigration centers, each facility’s environment can greatly impact detainees’ well-being.

2. Detainer Request

A detainer issued for illegal immigrants is a formal request from ICE to extend an individual’s holding period for 48 hours beyond their release date. This timeframe is important for detaining illegal immigrants and the legal system to prepare for what comes next.

During this phase, detainees are made aware of their legal rights, including the right to an attorney. However, the government does not provide one. This intersection of immigration enforcement and legal rights emphasizes the necessity of expert guidance in navigating the intricate landscape of immigration law.

3. Notice to Appear (NTA)

When an individual resides in the US without legal authorization, they may face a Notice to Appear (NTA) for immigration court proceedings. This official document clearly outlines the reasons that could lead to potential deportation and also outlines the individual’s fundamental right to present their case in front of an immigration judge.

4. Bond or Detention Pending Hearing

When it comes to awaiting their court date, detained illegal immigrants face the possibility of being released on bond or remaining detained based on various factors. Those with a serious criminal history often find themselves more likely to stay in illegal immigrant detainment due to concerns about flight risk and potential danger to the broader community.


Razor wire against a bright sunset


5. Immigration Court Proceedings

Immigration court proceedings are pivotal moments where the destinies of detainees hang in the balance. Judges meticulously weigh factors like asylum claims and legal representation to decide on matters such as:

  • deportation
  • release
  • granting legal status

Detained illegal immigrants have the right to be represented by an attorney. Still, unlike in criminal cases, the government does not provide one for free.

Immigration judges decide whether to grant legal status like asylum or adjustment of status or issue deportation orders. In some cases, individuals may be granted voluntary departure, allowing them to leave the country within a set period.

6. Appeals

Suppose the decision does not go in their favor. In that case, individuals can exercise their right to appeal their case to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). They can take it further if needed by appealing to a federal circuit court of appeals. This process allows individuals to seek further review and potentially overturn an unfavorable decision through a legal pathway available to them.

7. Deportation

In the event of a final deportation order, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will take the necessary steps to facilitate the individual’s removal to their country of origin. Deportation procedures can sometimes unfold swiftly following a conclusive order. Yet, there are instances where the process may drag on, particularly when the person in question lacks essential travel documentation.

8. Post-Removal

After facing deportation, individuals could potentially face bans that prohibit them from reentering the United States for a set period of time. This period could vary from 5 to 10 years or even up to 20 years, or in some cases, result in a lifelong restriction. The duration of these bans is typically decided based on the specific details of their situation and the factors that led to their deportation.

How Long Can an Illegal Immigrant Be Detained?

When a loved one or family member is detained, it’s natural to wonder about how long can an illegal immigrant be detained. The reality is that there’s no straightforward answer to this question. The length of detention varies greatly depending on the specifics of each individual case.

How long an illegal immigrant is detained is a complex issue with no easy answers. It is influenced by factors like:

  • the individual’s legal background
  • risk of flight
  • backlog in immigration courts
  • existing criminal record
  • level of risk to the community

Despite existing policies and guidelines, some detainees can languish in a state of uncertainty as they await hearings and decisions for extended periods.

How Do I Get Someone Out of Illegal Immigrant Detainment?

While everyone isn’t eligible for an immigration bail bond, it can be an option to get your loved one out of illegal immigrant detainment. Liberty Immigration stands out as a trustworthy agency dedicated to simplifying the immigration process.

By offering an easy online platform, we alleviate the stress and risks associated with what happens when an illegal immigrant is detained. The release from detention not only improves the mental and physical health of immigrants but also fosters family reunification, easing the emotional burden on you and your loved ones.

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