'Prison cells' found at https://flic.kr/p/8ad6YY by miss_millions (https://flickr.com/people/marineperez) used under Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
'Prison cells' found at https://flic.kr/p/8ad6YY by miss_millions (https://flickr.com/people/marineperez) used under Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
'Prison cells' found at https://flic.kr/p/8ad6YY by miss_millions (https://flickr.com/people/marineperez) used under Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
This is perhaps the most common - and most frustrating - inquiry we receive on a weekly basis.  Right now, after a short period of somewhat relaxed immigration enforcement, U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) is pursuing undocumented individuals aggressively and relentlessly.  The scariest part of the process for concerned family members, employers, and friends is that they often do not even know how where the arrested person is being held.  Because of the mass numbers of detainees, and the frequency with which ICE moves them from one jail to another, DHS/ICE actually has an "inmate locator" link on its web site.  This link takes one to the ICE online inmate/detainee locator system, but users should bear in mind that the site is not always operational.  Therefore, contacting a local ICE field office may be the better bet.  A link of ICE field offices nationwide is available here.  

In New Hampshire (and for parts of Vermont and Maine, as well), most ICE detainees are held - at least temporarily - at the Strafford County House of Corrections, a county jail located at 266 County Farm Road in Dover, New Hampshire.  The jail's main phone number is (603)742-3310.  Inmates who will be in ICE custody for extended periods may be moved to other facilities, usually in Massachusetts.

When a person is detained by ICE, the next major question is whether he or she will be released on bond pending an appearance in the Immigration Court.  Most detainees are in fact legally eligible for an immigration bond, but ICE tends to hold people with any sort of criminal record, no matter how minor, and often seeks to have the person sign a stipulated order of removal.  That document waives the person's rights to a hearing, to seek bond, and to request relief from removal/deportation before an Immigration Judge.  We have received repeated reports that ICE agents regularly pressure detainees to sign the report, promising them a shorter detention period before what ICE characterizes as the person's inevitable return to their native country.  If ICE holds a person without bond, then the person may seek a bond of no less than $1,500.00 before an immigration judge.

We strongly caution all persons against signing any paperwork waiving their rights before seeing an Immigration Judge.  While the law simply does not provide immigration relief for some people, others may very well have options that they would only be able to pursue after presenting their case to an Immigration Judge, usually with the help of a lawyer.  Any person in removal/deportation proceedings has the right to be represented by a lawyer, but not at government expense.  Therefore, the lawyers who handle removal/deportation cases are private, volunteers, or work for public interest/non-profits focusing on this sort of work.

The takeaway points to consider for anyone who may find him or herself in immigration custody is to consider includes the following:
  • Make sure that family and close friends know the person's expected schedule and whereabouts, so that they will realize if something has gone wrong
  • Where possible, keep an emergency savings fund available, for bond and/or legal fees
  • DO NOT SIGN ANY DOCUMENTS, especially if the person does not fully understand the contents of the form
  • Beware of any lawyer or other party who promises to "fix" the case for a certain fee; each and every case is different, and there are no guarantees when it comes to removal/deportation cases
  • Have family and friends contact competent, local legal counsel - whether a private law firm or qualified non-profit legal service provider - to get a sense of whether the person has any realistic options for fighting the removal/deportation case
  • Act quickly, since time is of the essence in immigration cases, but do not waive rights too soon.  The law, or at least the way our government enforces the law, may change at any time
If you have questions about immigration detention, or any facet of U.S. immigration law, feel free to contact us at info@immigsolutions.com.