Removal Proceedings and the Immigration Bond Process

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This article gives a basic explanation of Removal Proceedings and the Immigration Bond Process, based on my experience.   I emphasise that the advice in this article is general advice.   If you, or someone you know, is in Removal Proceedings, you should consult an attorney IMMEDIATELY about your specific case.

Removal

One of the scariest times for an alien is to be informed that Removal Proceedings have been started against him.    Removal is the process by which the US Government orders an alien to be removed from the United States.   If removed, the alien is usually barred from re-entering the United States.   Most often it is for a period of 10 years.    Sometimes it can be for life!    Again, if you, or someone you know, is in Removal Proceedings, you should consult an attorney immediately.

Detention

The first step in the Removal process is for the alien to be "detained" -  placed in custody with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).    There are many ICE facilities in the US, and the alien will be detained at the facility closest to where they are taken into custody.    Sometimes, the ICE facilities are separate facilities run by private companies.   The most common are CCA and GEO.    Detention is not conventional prison, but some ICE facilities are on the same premises as US prisons.   The immigration "detainees" are held in separate sections from US prisoners, however.

While in detention, a formal removal proceeding will usually be initiated by the US government.     The timeline can vary but usually a case is filed (aka started) after 2 weeks.   Sometimes it can be several weeks or even up to 90 days. 

Arriving Alien  

If the alien is detained entering the US, the Removal Proceeding is almost always ENTIRELY with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).   The DHS has "exclusive jurisdiction" over arriving aliens, and the Immigration Court does not interfere with the decisions of the DHS.  

An arriving alien does not have a right to bond-  to be released while in proceedings.    In some cases, the DHS may offer "parole" or permission to enter the US for a short time while the DHS makes its own decisions on removal.    

An alien should consult with an attorney IMMEDIATELY if classified as an arriving alien because the proceedings with the DHS are "summary proceedings" - decided VERY fast and usually with the DHS ordering removal and placing the alien on a bus or plane out of the country.

Immigration Court

If an alien is detained INSIDE the US-  not at the border, then the Removal Proceedings are usually held in a US Immigration Court. 

The case will be held in the Court closest to where the alien is taken into custody and detained.    If an alien is released on bond, the case can be transfered to somewhere else in the country.    You should consult with an attorney about this process, however.

Bond

If Removal Proceedings are held in an Immigration Court, an alien may be eligible for bond-   able to be released from ICE custody while his Removal Case is pending and eventually tried or resolved.     A Removal Proceeding can be a long process, sometimes years, so if bond is available, it should be pursued.

An immigration bond is money paid as surety that an alien under removal proceedings by the US government will appear at all proceedings relating to him.   Put simply:   it is insurance that, if released from custody, an alien will not disappear while his case is pending. 

The amount of the bond is discretionary and depends on many factors such as the alien's ties to the community, the reasons for removal, and his family's ability to pay, and whether he has a likely chance of winning his removal case.   

The minimum bond is usually $1500.00.    The maximum can be many thousands of dollars.     The DHS will often set the amount of the bond.    An alien (or his family or friends) can post it or ask for it to be lowered by an Immigration Judge.    It is important to consult with an attorney about this, since obtaining a lower bond requires a hearing and evidence in support of the request.

Eligibility for Bond - Mandatory Detention

In some instances, an alien is NOT eligible for bond.    Section 236c of the Immigration and Nationality Act sets forth several instances when an alien is subject to MANDATORY detention while in Removal Proceedings.   Among them include:   aggravated felonies, suspected terrorism, crimes of moral turpitude and possession of controlled substances (except marijuana less than 30 grams).

If an alien is subject to mandatory detention, you need to consult an immigration attorney with experience in criminal law IMMEDIATELY.

If an alien is NOT subject to mandatory detention, you need to consult an immigration attorney about seeking a bond hearing to obtain a bond or lower a bond if possible.

Posting Bond 

Once bond is set, the alien remains in custody while his family or friends post the bond.    This can be through a bonding company or directly with ICE / DHS.

A bonding company will usually charge a premium of 15% of the bond.   They will also require full collateral for the remainder.    That will be returned to you at the conclusion of the proceedings.     The bonding company will post the bond.

If posting bond directly with the government, one needs a money order or certified check in the full amount.    It can be posted at ANY DHS office.   

When posted, it will take 1 - 5 days for the bond to be processed.    The one posting the bond is usually subject to a background check.  There usually must be a US citizen or LPR who is willing to come forward to the DHS and provide evidence of their citizenship and where they currently live and where the alien will be living while out on bond.

Again, if you or someone you know is in Removal Proceedings and in need of an immigration bond, you should consult with an attorney about your case. 

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