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Immigration is a big issue in 2017. President Donald Trump expressed plans for mass deportations and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) increased fees in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Fee Schedule. According to “How For-Profit Companies Are Driving Immigration Detention Policies” by the Center for American Progress, there were almost two times the number of immigrants in detention in 2013 (440,600) than in 2005 (230,000), due mainly to the privatization of detention centers.

There are currently more than 200 immigration detention centers in the United States that detain men, women and children. They are often located far from major cities. There can be thousands of detainees in the larger centers with a population of those with and without criminal records. All of this combines to create a prison-like situation, which is unfortunate given that many immigrants are simply trying to escape dangerous situations in their home countries.

Ways Into Detention

The five most obvious are:

1. Arrest for criminal activity resulting in a U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold on the detainee’s release.

2. Being held at a point of entry post-travel.

3. Prior order of deportation.

4. Immigration applications/misrepresentations to USCIS.

5. Voluntary presentation at a point of entry (typically asylum seekers).

According to an article, “Living Conditions in Immigration Detention Centers,” published by Nolo, there are three aspects of the detention experience: detention surroundings, outside communication and staff interactions.

Detention Surroundings

In most detention centers, men and women are housed separately, but some facilities allow families to stay together. Disruption of the family unit is distressing, as there’s no way of knowing how long detention will last before being granted relief. Some things to expect are:

• Handcuffs/shackles during transportation.

• Confiscation of personal belongings.

• Uniformed guards.

• Wearing jumpsuits.

• Limited privacy (sleeping in a room with others).

• Daily “counts.” Detainees must be near their beds for “counts,” even if it means missing time with visitors.

• Potentially missing meals if visitors, including lawyers, come during meal times.

While some centers have immigration courts and asylum offices onsite, most of the time interviews and hearings are done via video conferences due to the remote location of most centers.

Outside Communication

Detainees often face difficulties when trying to contact those outside the center. These include:

• Expensive phone calls.

• Unreliable free phone systems to call approved legal-aid groups.

• Restriction to collect calls.

• Possible prohibition from calling internationally.

Telephone access is easiest if detainees have a calling card. Receiving calls is difficult to arrange and the centers screen all incoming and outgoing mail, which slows delivery.

Also, staff can be unresponsive or rude. However, procedures for reporting poor treatment are limited. Detainees should document serious concerns, including lack of medical care, physical violence, sexual abuse, unsanitary conditions, lack of water or food, 
segregation used as punishment, or being forced to sign documents, to discuss with their lawyers. Charitable groups that advocate for detainees often visit centers and partner with attorneys to help find detainees legal representation, sometimes at no cost.

There are medical personnel onsite. However, communicating medical needs may be difficult due to language barriers. Sometimes, the medical staff is as unresponsive as the guards.

Detainees’ Rights

It’s frightening being trapped in a hard-to-understand system with proceedings conducted in a different language. Immigrants in detention have rights, which is why lawyers and advocacy groups are so important. Some of those rights include:

• Speaking with a lawyer.

• Hearing before a judge.

• Presenting a defense to deportation.

Detainees shouldn’t sign any documents presented by ICE, unless they have discussed the papers with their lawyer.

When it comes to release, some immigrants are eligible depending on immigration status, criminal record and mandatory detention status. The three scenarios are parole, release on bond or fight the case while in detention.

Immigrants with criminal convictions or other immigration violations are more likely subject to mandatory detention. Their best option for 
release is requesting a bond hearing. At the bond hearing, the judge determines the bond amount by weighing factors, such as whether the detainee is a danger to the community or a flight risk.

Those detainees who aren’t subject to mandatory detention should first attempt to be paroled. Parole occurs for several reasons, including humanitarian (medical and other emergencies). The DHS website lists the different types of parole. If denied, ICE sets a bond amount. If the bond amount is unreasonable, detainees may ask for a bond re-determination hearing. If that fails, the only choice left may be to remain in detention while fighting deportation.

After the deportation trial, detainees who have been granted relief are eligible to be released. Some forms of relief are:

• Asylum.

• Withholding of removal.

• Cancellation of removal for lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and non-LPRs.

Some remedies lead to LPR status and others do not. Those detainees who aren’t granted relief may appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing a 2016 case, Jennings v. Rodriguez, 136 S. Ct. 2489, that could change the face of immigration law. The focus of Jennings is whether immigrants held in long-term detention are guaranteed bail hearings. Currently, the court has issued an order to the parties to submit supplemental briefs by Jan. 31, 2017. The briefs must address that issue as well as whether release into the United States is called for if detention lasts six months or longer.

Regardless of the outcome of Jennings, it’s important for detainees to get legal assistance from an experienced immigration attorney. Immigration issues should not be faced alone; the system is too complex and failure could mean deportation, which for some, is a death sentence.

Immigration is a big issue in 2017. President Donald Trump expressed plans for mass deportations and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) increased fees in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Fee Schedule. According to “How For-Profit Companies Are Driving Immigration Detention Policies” by the Center for American Progress, there were almost two times the number of immigrants in detention in 2013 (440,600) than in 2005 (230,000), due mainly to the privatization of detention centers.

There are currently more than 200 immigration detention centers in the United States that detain men, women and children. They are often located far from major cities. There can be thousands of detainees in the larger centers with a population of those with and without criminal records. All of this combines to create a prison-like situation, which is unfortunate given that many immigrants are simply trying to escape dangerous situations in their home countries.

Ways Into Detention

The five most obvious are:

1. Arrest for criminal activity resulting in a U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold on the detainee’s release.

2. Being held at a point of entry post-travel.

3. Prior order of deportation.

4. Immigration applications/misrepresentations to USCIS.

5. Voluntary presentation at a point of entry (typically asylum seekers).

According to an article, “Living Conditions in Immigration Detention Centers,” published by Nolo, there are three aspects of the detention experience: detention surroundings, outside communication and staff interactions.

Detention Surroundings

In most detention centers, men and women are housed separately, but some facilities allow families to stay together. Disruption of the family unit is distressing, as there’s no way of knowing how long detention will last before being granted relief. Some things to expect are:

• Handcuffs/shackles during transportation.

• Confiscation of personal belongings.

• Uniformed guards.

• Wearing jumpsuits.

• Limited privacy (sleeping in a room with others).

• Daily “counts.” Detainees must be near their beds for “counts,” even if it means missing time with visitors.

• Potentially missing meals if visitors, including lawyers, come during meal times.

While some centers have immigration courts and asylum offices onsite, most of the time interviews and hearings are done via video conferences due to the remote location of most centers.

Outside Communication

Detainees often face difficulties when trying to contact those outside the center. These include:

• Expensive phone calls.

• Unreliable free phone systems to call approved legal-aid groups.

• Restriction to collect calls.

• Possible prohibition from calling internationally.

Telephone access is easiest if detainees have a calling card. Receiving calls is difficult to arrange and the centers screen all incoming and outgoing mail, which slows delivery.

Also, staff can be unresponsive or rude. However, procedures for reporting poor treatment are limited. Detainees should document serious concerns, including lack of medical care, physical violence, sexual abuse, unsanitary conditions, lack of water or food, 
segregation used as punishment, or being forced to sign documents, to discuss with their lawyers. Charitable groups that advocate for detainees often visit centers and partner with attorneys to help find detainees legal representation, sometimes at no cost.

There are medical personnel onsite. However, communicating medical needs may be difficult due to language barriers. Sometimes, the medical staff is as unresponsive as the guards.

Detainees’ Rights

It’s frightening being trapped in a hard-to-understand system with proceedings conducted in a different language. Immigrants in detention have rights, which is why lawyers and advocacy groups are so important. Some of those rights include:

• Speaking with a lawyer.

• Hearing before a judge.

• Presenting a defense to deportation.

Detainees shouldn’t sign any documents presented by ICE, unless they have discussed the papers with their lawyer.

When it comes to release, some immigrants are eligible depending on immigration status, criminal record and mandatory detention status. The three scenarios are parole, release on bond or fight the case while in detention.

Immigrants with criminal convictions or other immigration violations are more likely subject to mandatory detention. Their best option for 
release is requesting a bond hearing. At the bond hearing, the judge determines the bond amount by weighing factors, such as whether the detainee is a danger to the community or a flight risk.

Those detainees who aren’t subject to mandatory detention should first attempt to be paroled. Parole occurs for several reasons, including humanitarian (medical and other emergencies). The DHS website lists the different types of parole. If denied, ICE sets a bond amount. If the bond amount is unreasonable, detainees may ask for a bond re-determination hearing. If that fails, the only choice left may be to remain in detention while fighting deportation.

After the deportation trial, detainees who have been granted relief are eligible to be released. Some forms of relief are:

• Asylum.

• Withholding of removal.

• Cancellation of removal for lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and non-LPRs.

Some remedies lead to LPR status and others do not. Those detainees who aren’t granted relief may appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing a 2016 case, Jennings v. Rodriguez , 136 S. Ct. 2489 , that could change the face of immigration law. The focus of Jennings is whether immigrants held in long-term detention are guaranteed bail hearings. Currently, the court has issued an order to the parties to submit supplemental briefs by Jan. 31, 2017. The briefs must address that issue as well as whether release into the United States is called for if detention lasts six months or longer.

Regardless of the outcome of Jennings, it’s important for detainees to get legal assistance from an experienced immigration attorney. Immigration issues should not be faced alone; the system is too complex and failure could mean deportation, which for some, is a death sentence.