Frequently Asked Questions: Immigration Detention

Frequently Asked Questions on Immigration Detention 

Please do not substitute this for legal advice. Seek an experienced immigration attorney for consultation on specific cases. Additionally, this list is not exhaustive and you can find resources at the links provided.

Why am I being detained?

ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement) can deport individuals who:

  1. Enter the country without documentation (i.e. those that cross the border)
  2. Enter the country with legal documentation but this has now expired (i.e. those that overstayed their visa)
  3. Is a legal permanent resident (LPR) or green card holder and has committed certain crimes

A U.S. citizen can and should never be deported

What are the programs at play in my county?

The two biggest programs that we are faced with in Florida are:

Secure Communities is a statewide program in the state of Florida and exists in all counties. Local law enforcement checks fingerprints in federal databases for everyone who is arrested. If the database indicates that someone does not have legal status in the U.S., ICE gets notice and can begin an immigration case against the person.

The 287g program exists in only three counties in the state of Florida. Those counties are Collier, Duvall and Bay. Under this program, certain police officers are deputized to act as ICE agents and carry out certain tasks. In certain counties like Collier, the 287g officers can both enforce immigration authority out on the street and in the jails. So for example, if the person is arrested for driving without a valid driver’s license, the 287g officers can ask questions to obtain the person’s immigration status. They can also ask these questions once the person is in jail.

What can I expect to happen to me?

This varies depending on your specific case, but in general the process is something like this:

If arrested by ICE: 1) you will be taken to jail or an office 2) you will be interviewed about your immigration status 3) you are moved to a detention center 4) you will have an immigration court hearing

If arrested by the police: 1) booking into jail and interview about immigration status 2) ICE detainer (“hold”) 3) criminal case could be resolved or not; ICE will pick you up anyway due to detainer 4) serve sentence (“time served” if any) 5) ICE picks you up from jail/prison and/or you stay in the same jail which acts like a detention center 5) ICE may move you to a detention center 6) Immigration court hearing

I was told I had an immigration “hold”. What does this mean?

An immigration hold or detainer is a request that ICE puts in to the local law enforcement agency that has an undocumented person and who they want to detain. This means that local law enforcement can hold you up to 48 hours, excluding holidays and weekends, until ICE picks you up.

If you have an ICE hold, you will probably be picked up and moved to a detention center.

What detention centers is ICE most likely to send me to in Florida?

Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach and Krome Detention Center in Miami.  However, ICE can send you to detention centers outside of Florida.

Link to BTC

Link to Krome

How can I find someone who is detained? What do I need?

If it’s the case that your loved one finds themselves detained, there is a tool that may be useful to you.

ICE has an online searching system to permit anyone to look up and find a person that is currently detained. You can find it here

For most accurate finds, you will need the person’s A (Alien) Number and the person’s country of birth.

If you do have only one of those two pieces or neither, you can search by having the person’s first and last names, country of birth and as an optional field, their date of birth.

This system doesn’t always yield results. Many times, when you search for an individual, they may not be in the system yet as it may take ICE a couple of days from the time they are moved from jail to the detention center to process them into this system. There’s also the possibility that you don’t have the person’s name as it appears to ICE. Many times, the police makes mistakes in inputting a person’s name and if it is misspelled, ICE will also misspell it processing this individual.

Sometimes, they only way to go is by calling the detention centers closest to you. In an ideal situation, your loved one will call you and provide you with their A# or you will have this information already.

What can I do to protect myself if I am stopped or I am already in detention?

Even if you are undocumented, you still have rights. Learn more about your rights here Spanish Version coming soon!

If you are already in detention, there are certain procedures that you should be aware of. Click here to learn more 

Remember, do not substitute this for legal advice. If you have more questions about immigration related issues, contact a lawyer or a service provider in your area.

Last revised: November 29, 2012

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