What happens when you get a phone call saying that your spouse or other family member has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents?
That’s a nightmare that’s become a reality for far too many families these days. Where local police used to often turn a blind eye to issues with immigration, many immigrants are now hounded closely by agents from ICE. That means that a minor traffic infraction can end up with your loved one in a detention center.
Where do you turn now? What should you know?
1. You can contact the nearest ICE office to try to determine where your relative is being held. If you have access to his or her alien number, green card or work permit, you can look up the information and find out where he or she is through the ICE Online Detainee Locator.
2. You may be able to talk to the officer in charge of your relative’s case and be permitted to speak with your relative. (If so, be careful what you say. Keep in mind that everything is monitored, and you don’t want to say anything that will get your relative deported.) If the officer won’t permit you to talk to your relative, you will need an immigration attorney to help you.
3. Prepare for a long wait. While the majority of people detained are eventually released, and few are deported. Your relative may be detained for months or years pending an investigation.
4. Get an attorney to help your family member avoid some of the worst abuses that ICE detainees have been facing. Many detainees with serious health conditions are not getting needed health care or medication. Many have also reported having food withheld or being thrown in solitary confinement just for minor infractions.
Any immigrant in an ICE detention center is at risk of deportation — justly or not. Having an attorney experienced in detainment issues is extremely important to his or her future, so don’t hesitate to contact one for help.
Source: The Nation, “What Happens to Undocumented Immigrants Once They Fall Into ICE’s Hands?,” Michelle Chen, accessed Oct. 27, 2017