For many people facing deportation, the day that they were picked up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement began like any other day. At some point, ICE officials appeared at their home and office looking for the alien. The ICE officials typically have paperwork to give to the alien and place the person in handcuffs before transporting them to the local ICE office for processing.
In many parts of the country, ICE has detention facilities for housing detained immigrants. In St. Louis, detained individuals are transported by ICE to one of four outstate jails - Charleston (Mississippi County), Benton (Scott County), Montgomery City (Montgomery County) or Troy (Lincoln County). It typically takes four or five weeks for an individual being detained to have their initial appearance and bond hearing with the immigration judge. Because St. Louis does not have an immigration court, detainees here appear by videoconference with an immigration judge in Oakdale, Louisiana.
You should know that many individuals detained by ICE are subject to something called mandatory detention. Mandatory detention requires ICE to detain individuals with criminal backgrounds or various other offenses. An immigration judge cannot release someone on bond if they are subject to mandatory detention.
But assuming that mandatory detention does not apply, the first step in the bond process occurs at the District Office of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE officials make an initial custody and bond determination. If the person demonstrates that they are not a danger to the community or a flight risk, ICE can release the person on their own recognizance.
If ICE refuses to release a non-citizen, that person has the right to request a bond determination hearing from the immigration judge. In theory, the bond proceedings are separate from the removal proceedings themselves. In reality, many issues related to bond carry over into the merits of the attempted deportation. Immigration judges are prohibited from granting bond for certain types of people - arriving aliens, those charged as deportable on national security grounds and those subject to mandatory detention. But the immigration judge does have the authority to determine whether the charged non-citizen actually falls into one of these categories.
The immigration judge can consider many factors in determining bond - both the factors that warrant release on bond and those that suggest that the person should remain detained. For instance, an immigration judge may consider crimes that the person committed which are not contained in the removal documents (the notice to appear). The judge can also consider the likelihood of whether the person will, in fact, be deported. The immigration judge can consider family factors, job offers, letters of support from friends.
If the immigration judge does set bond, the lowest bond possible is $1,500. Bond can be made with a money order or cashier's check made out to the Department of Homeland Security or by using an authorized bail bondsman. As with criminal bonds, if the person fails to appear for immigration court, the bond is forfeited. The government or the non-citizen has the ability to appeal whatever bond determination the immigration judge reaches. Finally, a noncitizen may ask for bond redetermination if the circumstances of the individual's case have "materially changed."
If you or a family member are being detained by ICE and you need assistance with your deportation case or with bond, please contact the immigration attorneys at the Hacking Immigration Law by calling 314-961-8200 or by using our online contact form.