1. Immigration Detention
Generally speaking, aliens who crossed border or entered the US illegally, who are present in the US illegally, or who have violated the terms and conditions of their status in the US, including committing certain crimes, are “removable” from the US and may be picked up and detained by the BICE, the US Bureau of Immigration and Custom Enforcement, of the Department of Homeland Security, which is the enforcement branch of the US immigration authority.

Prior to 1997 when a single “removal proceeding” was created, “inadmissible” and “deportable” aliens were treated differently and were subject to different procedure in exclusion and deportation proceedings respectively. Since then, if an inadmissible or a deportable alien does not fall under summary or expedited removal procedures (further explained below), he/she would be put under a removal proceeding.

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2. Bond Hearing With Immigration Court
If an alien is detained by the BICE in removal proceeding, eligible aliens can ask an immigration judge to reduce the amount of bond set by DHS, or to set a bond if DHS has determined that no bond should be set. The immigration court of the place the alien is detained will have the jurisdiction to decide if the alien can be released and the term of such release. However, the Court’s jurisdiction does not reach “arriving alien”, a special term describing “an applicant for admission coming or attempting to come into the United States at a port-of-entry, or an alien seeking transit through the United States at a port-of-entry, or an alien interdicted in international or United States waters and brought into the United States by any means, whether or not to a designated port-of-entry, and regardless of the means of transport”. Neither do the Immigration judges have bond jurisdiction over people who are subject to mandatory detention on criminal grounds or terrorism.

Bond decision is a discretion exercised by the presiding immigration judge. However, the applicant must satisfy many factors the court inquires. These factors include social, family, economic, country, residence, and other factors. An experienced immigration attorney will know what to prepare and what to ask and answer for the bond application.

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3. Immigration Bond
In bond redetermination proceeding, the immigration judge has the discretion to decide the amount of bond and terms of release. According to the immigration law, immigration judges may grant bond in the minimum of $1,500.00. There is, however, no upper limit to the bond amount. As such, in some extreme cases, the bond amount can be as high as tens of thousand of dollars. Typically, the government counsel will request the Court to set a high bond to secure the appearance of the alien for future proceeding.

In the bond proceeding, an experienced attorney will start with talking with the government counsel to get a feeling of the government’s attitude and position about the case and the requested bond. This type of discussion is delicate and the attorney needs to balance a lot of factors to decide whether to accept the offer from the government counsel, or to reject the offer and resort to the hearing and decision of the Court. An experienced attorney like those of Lin & Valdez will always talk with the government counsel before a court hearing. If the two sides reach to an agreement, we can present the reached agreement to the court. Most of the time, the presiding judge will accept the agreement and order the agreed amount of bond accordingly. If an agreement is not reached, a bond hearing will then follow.

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4. Posting Bond and Condition of Release from Detention
Once a bond is granted by the immigration court, the alien’s families or relatives can go to the Immigration Office to pay the bond.

In addition to setting the amount of bond to be paid to the Department of Homeland Security for the alien’s release, the Court can also sets other terms and conditions for the release. For example, the Court can ask the Alien to surrender or submit his passport or other forms of identification to the Department of Homeland Security. Unless the terms or conditions are satisfied, the alien would not be released.

The purpose of the bond, as mentioned previously, is to assure the appearance of the alien for the future proceedings of the court. If the alien eventually prevails in the court and a relief is granted, the bond money would be returned to the person who posts the bond. If the alien fails to appear for the further court hearing and abandons the bond, the bond money would be lost and be confiscated by the Department of Homeland Security.

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5. Removal Proceeding
In the removal proceedings, the agency that is responsible for enforcing federal immigration laws, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), charges and must prove that an alien is in the United States unlawfully and should be removed. The removal proceedings start with the serving of a charging document called Notice to Appear, to the alien. In the charging document, the DHS alleges the fact that an alien violates immigration law and lists the section of immigration law the alien violates.

Once the removability of an alien is established by the immigration judge, the alien must find a way, i.e. a relief, out of the removal proceeding. There are different types of relieves an alien may seek if he can prove that he is eligible for one. It should be noted that the alien has the burden of proof to prove that he is eligible for any relief and he should play an active role to pursue the relief. Some relieves involve filing petition to the USCIS first, and some relieves will be strictly decided by the immigration court, e.g. defensive asylum petition, asylum filed after a person is already in removal proceeding.

Throughout the removal proceedings, there would be several hearings. Firstly, there would be initial master calendar’ hearing and, eventually, an individual’s hearing. During the master calendar hearing, the immigration judge ensures that the alien understands the immigration violation charges, the nature of the case, the rights and obligations, and consequence of failing to appear for future hearings. In the individual hearing, which is also called merit hearing, the alien presents his case to the court, and the merits of the case are discussed before the immigration judge by the alien through the alien’s attorney. The attorney representing DHS who is prosecuting the case will question the alien about the merits of the alien’s case. In most cases, the immigration judge issues an oral decision at the conclusion of the individual hearing. Sometimes the judge may later issue a written decision and mail the decision to the alien.

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6. Expedited Removal
In 1996, a new law called The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) was enacted by the Congress. IIRIRA tightens up many aspects of the immigration law. Among the changes, IRRIRA mandates that aliens who arrive at a U.S. port of entry without travel documents or present fraudulent documents must be detained and placed in expedited removal.

The expedited removal process allows an immigration inspector to remove from the United States certain classes of aliens who are inadmissible. However, no aliens can be expeditiously removed from the United States until they are read a sworn statement and acknowledge that they understand it, and are questioned whether they have a concern or fear of being returned to their home country.

Aliens who express a fear of persecution during the expedited removal process receive a “credible fear” interview with an asylum officer from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in DHS.

Aliens who are not found to have a credible fear of persecution by an asylum officer may request that an immigration judge review the asylum officer’s negative determination prior to their removal from the country. Those persons found to have a credible fear are referred to EOIR for removal proceedings in which they may apply for asylum before an immigration judge.

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7. Why Lin & Valdez LLP
Attorneys of Lin & Valdez LLP have appeared in hundreds of immigration bond proceeding and other removal hearings in Texas, Louisiana, Michigan, and California. We know the difference in the requirement of the courts in preparing and submitting the bond application. We have faced many government counsels in all those proceedings and bond hearings. This is especially so for the courts in Houston, San Antonio, and Harlingen/Brownsville of Texas.

Having an experienced attorney gives the detained alien a much better chance of being released. Also, an experienced attorney can help you find the most suitable relief. More delicately, an experienced attorney can obtain a lower bond from the court than an attorney who does not have experience and does not know the court’s requirement. An experienced attorney knows how to approach the government counsel and how to present and prove the factors required for the bond request.

In addition to bonding out hundreds of eligible aliens from the DHS detention, attorneys of Lin & Valdez have obtained relieves like asylum, cancellation of removal, withholding of removal, adjustment of status, TPS, and even termination of proceeding in the immigration court for our clients. Experienced attorneys, that is who we are. That is what the readers of this article need and that is why you should choose Lin & Valdez.

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