It is the policy of the Houston Police Department, and many other police departments, to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if they encounter an undocumented immigrant who has committed any sort of offense – even minor offenses such as running a red light or failure to provide proof of insurance. Once the police contact ICE, an immigration “hold” will be put on the undocumented immigrant.
What Is an ICE Hold?
Once ICE puts a hold on someone, they will be transferred into ICE custody upon the completion of the person’s criminal case with the local police. The person’s criminal case must be resolved (for example, a plea is entered and a sentence is given) before ICE will take them.
For example, here is a timeline of events: if someone is stopped for a DWI by the Houston Police Department and taken to jail, ICE is contacted by the Houston Police and a “hold” is placed, a plea is entered on the criminal case before a criminal judge, and then the person is transferred to immigration for removal proceedings before an immigration judge.
Not everyone is eligible for an immigration bond. This bond is different than a criminal bail bond in a criminal case. To be eligible for an immigration bond you must not be a danger to property or persons and must not be a threat to national security. Another important factor is the length and severity of a criminal history. If the person has broken the law many times and the laws broken are serious, (like assault, theft, rape) the immigration judge will not likely grant bond or may set a very high bond amount.
Immigration bonds are not 10% bonds like criminal bonds. The ENTIRE amount of the immigration bond must be paid for the person to be released from immigration custody. For example, if the immigration judge sets a $20,000 bond for release, then the entire $20,000 must be paid before the person is released.
Immigration Judge Discretion
The immigration judge has a lot of power in granting or denying someone an immigration bond. Some factors the immigration judge considers are:
- Length in the United States
- Stable address in the United States
- Criminal History
- Family Ties to the United States
- Immigration Record
- Attempts to Escape from Police or Authorities
- Likelihood to Appear for Future Hearings
Asking for Bond
An undocumented immigrant may ask for an immigration bond at his first court date with an immigration judge. The undocumented immigrant does not need to speak English, the Immigration Court has interpreters. The immigration judge will ask the person about family, time in the United States, possible immigration relief, and criminal and immigration history to determine the amount of bond to give. It is very helpful to hire an attorney for this process as immigration court and proceedings are very confusing and difficult to navigate. Many immigration courts will set a bond amount even if the undocumented immigrant does not ask for one and most often it is a higher amount than if the person had hired an attorney to fight for them. Also, remember that the Government attorney is not there to help the undocumented immigrant – the Government attorney is trying to deport the undocumented immigrant.
If you have questions concerning immigration bond, it is best to talk to an attorney. I can be reached at:
Jennifer A. Gutierrez
2909 Hillcroft, Suite 350
Houston, Texas 77386