In this section, I’ll describe what to do when a family member is picked up by ICE in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and surrounding counties (as far east as Tyler and as far west as Amarillo and Abilene) from their homes or at meeting with their probation officers. (Often immigrants are picked up from criminal jails or prisons; this situation is discussed here.)
When a person is picked up from his or her home, it usually happens for one of three reasons.
First, the person has an outstanding criminal conviction that makes him high-priority from an immigration enforcement standpoint.
Second, the person has an outstanding removal order, issued either from an immigration judge or through expedited removal proceedings at or near the border.
Third, the person is not someone ICE is specifically looking for at a home or residence, but ICE encounters him or her and makes an arrest. (The third scenario is by far the most heartbreaking.)
Regardless of the reason, you can expect the person to be moved to the ICE Field Office, located a 8101 N. Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, Texas. This is homebase for deportation officers in the Dallas area. (The government attorneys who represent the government in deportation proceedings are located elsewhere.)
When a person arrives at the Dallas Field Office, at 8101 N. Stemmons, ICE begins “processing” him or her. He or she is interviewed by a deportation officer on immigration, criminal, and family matters. The ICE officer decides whether to place the person in removal proceedings by issuing an NTA, and decides whether to grant the person release with or without bond.
The ICE officer’s decision of whether to grant release on bond is critical. Usually the decision rests on a person’s criminal history and length of presence in the U.S., and family ties — factors relating to whether the person poses a flight risk or danger to society. Sometimes an ICE officer is not allowed to release someone on bond. This is called mandatory detention, which can apply depending on the person’s criminal and immigration history.
If ICE authorizes a person’s release on bond, then he or she can call a family member to pay it, and the person will be released directly from 8101 N. Stemmons.
Sometimes “processing” by ICE officers can take a few days, depending on the number of persons detained at the Dallas Field Office at a given time. If a detainee is not processed by the end of business hours, then he or she will be housed overnight at the either the Euless City Jail or the Bedford City Jail. These jails are not immigration jails. They are city jails that contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to temporarily house immigrants being processed in and out of the Dallas Field Office on 8101 N. Stemmons.
If your family member stays a night in Euless or Bedford, he or she will be moved back to to 8101 N. Stemmons in the morning to continue waiting to be processed.
If ICE does not grant the person release on bond, he or she will be transferred to a longer-term immigration detention facility, either the Johnson County Detention Center in Cleburne, Texas or the Prairieland Detention Center (PDC) in Alvarado, Texas. By this point, you should be consulting with an immigration attorney to find out whether he or she can get an immigration bond through an immigration judge, or request a review by an ICE deportation officer.
Most often, the person will not be deported automatically; he or she will typically have a hearing before by an immigration judge. There are some exceptions, which I’ll discuss below.
Whether a person is released from immigration jail, or he remains in ICE custody, he or she will be scheduled for an immigration court hearing. If the person is in ICE custody, the first hearing will ordinarily take place via televideo from the immigration jail. If the person is out of custody (i.e. not in jail), he or she will physically appear at the Dallas Immigration Court. In either case, the immigration judge will provide the person at least one hearing reset in order to find an immigration attorney. At subsequent hearings, the immigration judge will ask the attorney or client how he or she wishes to respond to the charge of removability alleged by ICE. If the immigration judge finds that the person is removable, then the respondent will have a chance to apply for any form of relief for which he’s eligible. Once the application is filed, the immigration judge will conduct a final hearing at which he or she will consider all written and live testimony.
So, in most cases, deportation is not automatic. There is an opportunity to fight your case. Whether you can stop the deportation will depend on a number of factors, like the charges lodged against you, your criminal and immigration history, and other biographical facts.
There are situations, however, where deportation can occur without a hearing before an immigration judge. First, if you have a prior removal order and you are apprehended by immigration authorities, ICE can seek to execute the order and physically deport you without giving you a chance to see an immigration judge. Or, if you have a prior order and were already deported but reentered illegally, ICE can simply reinstate your prior removal order. And again, you will not have a chance to see a judge. Finally, a process called “summary removal” exists for certain aggravated felons. It does not apply to green card holders. In summary removal proceedings, you have a chance to respond to ICE officers’ charges, but you do not get to see an immigration judge unless you request asylum and pass a reasonable fear interview.
Thus, with few exceptions, deportation is not automatic. An immigration attorney with experience in removal defense can help you or your loved on to examine all avenues of relief and perhaps stop deportation.
As described above, the first stop is the Dallas Field Office, located at 8101 N. Stemmons. At this location the ICE officers “process” non-citizens for removal. They interview detainees to decide whether to place them in removal proceedings and to authorize their release on an immigration bond.
If a person does not bond out, either because he or she didn’t receive an immigration bond or because it wasn’t paid, he or she will be transferred to one of two immigration jails in the DFW area: the Johnson County Detention Center in Cleburne, Texas or the Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado, Texas.
If someone you know is picked up by ICE, it’s important to consult quickly with an immigration attorney in Dallas-Fort Worth.
When a family comes to see us about a member who has been apprehended by ICE, we take quick steps towards getting the best possible outcome.
First, we quickly assess the possible basis for the charge of deportation and examine any possibility for relief from removal.
Second, if the person is eligible for an immigration bond, we will often intervene by contacting directly a deportation officer at the Dallas Field Office on 8101 N. Stemmons. For example, our law firm will often submit to deportation officials evidence that the person does not pose a flight risk or danger to society and negotiate release on bond. Although advocating for our clients at the Dallas Field Office is not guaranteed to result in a bond, it is sometimes very effective.
Third, if obtaining an immigration bond through ICE officials will not work, we will begin preparing a bond application that we later submit to the immigration court. Getting an early start on preparing the bond application is very often critical, because it sometimes involves gathering and organizing either a large volume of evidence or documents that are not easy to locate.
Fourth, it’s never too early to start planning a strategy for relief from deportation.
In sum, our law firm is ready to take quick, effective steps if your family member or friend has been picked up by immigration.
Gather all the documents you can find relating to his or her criminal and immigration history.
Interview your family or friend to gather information needed by the attorney
Meet an attorney experienced in deportation defense
Getting an immigration bond is nowhere as fast and easy as getting a bond in criminal court. Know that the process could take days, weeks, and even months. Given the challenge of deportation cases, sometimes the most significant win is simply getting released. With that in mind, be patient and focus on getting the result that’s best, not necessarily fastest.