If you have been following the news recently, you have heard about increased raids and detentions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Yes, ICE is actively searching for those that committed crimes, have orders of deportation or simply undocumented. It is their job to enforce U.S. immigration laws. It has always been their job to enforce the immigration laws. You are hearing about it more thanks to all the political talk regarding immigration from both the Democrats and the Republicans over the last election.
First, it is important to point out that Immigration laws have not changed in many years. How certain parts of the law are enforced or not enforced are affected by who is in charge of the government. It is this change in priorities of enforcement that has changed how things have seemed to operate over the last eight years. Those individuals with criminal histories or are threats to the safety and health of the U.S. have always been a priority for removal. So if you have been involved in any type of criminal activity, which includes drinking and driving, drugs, or domestic battery, you are and have always been a high priority to ICE and the U.S. government for removal.
Oh no! I have an Immigration Court Hearing or ICE Check In What Do I do?
So whether ICE caught you or you were stopped at the border by Customs and Border Patrol, you are now being ordered to appear before an Immigration Court or ICE for regular check ins. The best thing you can do for yourself is go speak to your attorney. Don’t have an attorney? It is always recommend that you find a licensed attorney to review your options and if possible to appear with you in Immigration Court.
Why? The first and most important reason for talking to an attorney is that it is their job to know the law and how the Court works. Do you know how U.S. immigration law works? Do you understand and know the rules of the Court or ICE? The answer for most people is NO. How can you? U.S. immigration law is complicated.
The second reason is that the Court and ICE generally won’t tell you what you should do. If you choose to not hire an attorney, the Court and ICE will expect you to know what you need to file, when you need to file it and how to present your case. They might give you some hints, but they will not help you correctly fill out the forms or forgive your mistakes just because you don’t have an attorney. Remember you are on trial, so you have to prove your case and why you qualify to remain in the U.S. If you don’t you will be ordered removed from the U.S.
Should I Attend My Hearing or Check In?
So you have spoken to an attorney, but maybe you do not have any relief that can be filed for you. Should you attend your hearing or check in anyway? ABSOLUTELY. NEVER MISS AN IMMIGRATION COURT HEARING OR ICE CHECK IN. Even if you know you are going to be ordered removed, you should never skip a hearing or check in. ICE is going to find you and when they do, they will definitely keep you in custody if you failed to appear to a required check in.
If you are in Court, the Judge is going to order you removed whether you attend or not. However, the difference in what happens to you later is why it is so important to attend your hearings. If you attend the hearing an order of removal will be issued against you, but if you fail to attend a hearing that you were notified of an order in absentia will be issued against you. Unlike a regular order of deportation, orders in absentia can only be reopened in very limited circumstances and waivers are nearly impossible. Why is this important? If in the future, if you have a family member that can petition for you, a regular order of removal can be waived and/or reopened. Under current laws, an order in absentia could mean you may never be granted legal status in the U.S.
What about attending Criminal Court Hearings in my local Court?
So if you made a mistake and find yourself ordered to appear in criminal court, you must follow the court’s orders. Failing to follow any Court’s orders can have severe legal penalties from that Court, but it can have even greater penalties if you are placed into removal proceedings by Immigration.
Failing to appear at a Court hearing will likely guarantee that the Court will issue a warrant for your arrest for failing to appear or comply with the Court’s orders. This warrant guarantees that your local police will be looking for you and when they find you, they likely WILL ARREST YOU. Again depending on the crime, once the Court has you in Custody it may refuse to release you until your case is tried or place a very high bail on you. Even worse, you are now in custody and ICE will now have a chance to take you directly into their custody.
As a result of skipping the hearing your chances of being in Immigration custody has now been increased significantly. Also increased is the risk of immigration using your failure to appear in your local court as an argument that you are a flight risk and refusing to issue bond. Yes, Immigration might be waiting for you at your Court hearing depending on how serious your crime is or if you have been previously deported/ removed from the U.S. The consequences for not attending could be much worse.
If you or someone you know needs advice about your immigration case, please contact Griffith Xidias Law Group for a free consultation. Our phone number is (317) 236-0486, or visit us at 5150 Pike Plaza Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46254 or at www.indyimmigrationlaw.com.
Stay tuned next month when we discuss more about what immigration relief might be available to you or loved ones.