Ask An Attorney: When Can ICE Detain My Loved One?

Ask An Attorney: When Can ICE Detain My Loved One?

Whether we know it or not, everyone has loved ones who live in fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). Maybe we’re talking about one of our children’s friends at school. Or maybe we’re talking about the couple that sits next to you at church. If you know about their circumstances, you inevitably have at least one question: Can ICE detain my loved one?

In general, the federal government can deport anyone without lawful immigration status.

The federal government can also deport anyone with lawful immigration status, including permanent residents, refugees and visa holders, if they are convicted of a crime. This second category allows ICE to target you even if your conviction is from years ago, even if it was a misdemeanor or you didn’t serve jail time, even if you’ve lived here legally for multiple decades and even if the rest of your family members are US citizens.

A final, albeit rare, category includes those wrongly detained and deported. Quite recently, there’s been several instances of U.S. citizens being detained even deported for no reason at all.

Can ICE detain my loved one?
Image courtesy of Kyle Glenn on Unsplash.

These three categories likely leave you with many questions. We’ll tackle some of the more basic ones here.

When can ICE detain my loved one?

If your loved one falls into any of the categories listed above, ICE can detain them. Does your loved one have lawful immigration status? If not, ICE can detain them at any time. Are they here as a lawful permanent resident, refugee or visa holder but have since committed a crime? ICE can pick them up, too.

Where could ICE arrest my loved on?

In general, ICE will first identify a target and then make an arrest. If your loved one is incarcerated, this typically means waiting for a jail to release them. Then, once released after finishing their jail sentence, ICE can arrest and detain them for an undetermined amount of time until, if ever, deportation.

For folks who aren’t incarcerated, ICE can arrest your loved ones in their homes, wait for court dates or immigration appointments, remove them from shelters, and even go into workplaces and arrest folks. A common example of these types of arrests include so-called “raids” at places like restaurants.

Traditionally, ICE has generally avoided arresting individuals inside of churches, hospitals or schools under a “sensitive location” policy. Although the policy does not necessarily prohibit an arrest, the fact that even the most aggressive administrations follow the policy make it somewhat reliable.

Can ICE detain my loved one in a church?
Image courtesy of Cole Patrick on Unsplash.

What can I do if I think ICE might pick up my loved one?

If your loved one worries about getting detained by ICE, you can take several steps to prepare now. First, make a plan with your loved ones. This will allow you to ensure that your family has access to your private information, your finances and other important information.

Second, talk to an attorney. Your circumstances might prevent you from retaining a private attorney. But many organizations in our local community focus on helping immigrants just like your loved one.

Finally, North Carolina provides a variety of resources for refugees and other immigrants who might need it. Some local governments, Mecklenburg County for example, also provide resources for immigrants and their loved ones.

When It Comes To Asking “Can ICE Detain My Loved One?” It’s Hard to Know What is Right and What is Wrong

Election day was yesterday. And, while it seems like weeks, maybe even months, ago that we had the last presidential debate, you will likely recall President Donald Trump commenting that only “those with the lowest IQ” attend immigration appointments. Ignoring the off-putting nature of the comment itself, the unfortunate reality is that, when it comes to immigration, sometimes following the rules has the worst consequences.

Can ICE detain my loved one at the border?
Image courtesy of Naufal Giffari on Unsplash.

Folks in and around Durham will surely recall ICE’s deportation of Samuel Oliver-Bruno from late 2018. Oliver-Bruno lived in sanctuary in a Durham church for almost a year before ICE detained him as he left for an immigration appointment. That detention led to his quick deportation, separating him from his wife and son.

Oliver-Bruno’s loved ones undoubtedly asked the question: Can ICE detain my loved one? If you’re asking similar questions about your loved one, think about the basic information above and take the time to explore the other resources available to you.

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