Time after time the phone in my office rings with the same story. “My husband / fiancé/ brother/ friend/ cousin was just arrested…we went down and paid the bond at the jail but we told that we couldn’t get him out because immigration has a hold on him. Is there any way we can get him out…?”
My hear sinks with each phone call and I gear myself up to give them the bad news. “Well the problem is immigration will not consider giving him a bond until all his criminal issues are resolved. Once all his criminal issues are taken care of, meaning his charges are dismissed or he is found guilty and serves his time in jail, immigration then has 48 hours to come pick him up and place him in their custody. Once he is in immigration custody immigration might consider giving him a bond. A lot of it depends on what happens during his criminal case. When immigration is considering giving someone a bond they look at their criminal history, ties to the community, possible relief under immigration law and whether they are a threat to society. If he has any United States citizen or permanent resident family members we should go ahead and file a petition for him, but right now, you really should be concentrating on the criminal aspect of his case. The better his criminal case goes the easier it will be for me to ask for a bond from immigration.” And I try to finish with the good new “But…if immigration does not pick him up within 48 hours after this criminal case is resolved than we can file a writ to get him out of jail. Good luck! And let me know how the criminal side goes!”
But here is my question…why can’t ICE consider giving them a bond while their criminal proceedings are still pending? I’m not talking about if the client is charged with trafficking drugs or murder. But what about if a client is charged with a simple DUI or driving with an expired license and would be eligible for some for of relief under immigration law? If the client is charged with driving without a license, chances are, the most severe thing the client will be convicted of is DRIVING WITOUT A LICENSE! That is not a dangerous crime. The client is not a threat to the community! The client is as eligible for a bond while he is in criminal state custody as he would be in immigration custody. This is particularly true if the person has a legal entry, is married to a United States Citizen and has a bunch of little ones as home.
I can not tell you how it breaks my hear trying to explain to a client why the low bond that the criminal judge sets means nothing for their case. I hate to hear the United States Citizen mom saying “but who will stay with the kids? This has disrupted our whole lives! He is going to lose his job. The economy is awful right now! How will we make it?”
So here is the thing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, why don’t you consider giving a guy who is charged with a small traffic violation and who has relief under immigration law a bond while he is still in state custody? You can use the same discretionary standards that you always use. It is ridiculous to have the client’s life completely disrupted for a simple DUI. The client is now well aware that they need to take care of their immigration status. In fact, the whole family is aware…they is why they are calling my office. Give us a break guys. If the guy could get a bond from the judge to be released into your custody, and he has relief under the law, why not consider giving him a bond as well? This would make all of our lives so much easier. Crazed family members wouldn’t call me and I wouldn’t be forced to call you guys so often. Think about it…You know it makes sense.
I must end because my phone is ringing. Probably a family member of another person who is detained under the 287 (g) program. Now where is that number for Immigration and Customs Enforcement again …?