Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Aggravated Felony for immigration purposes?
Aggravated felonies include murder, rape, illicit trafficking in a controlled substance, money laundering in transactions in exceeding $10,000, firearms, explosives or arson charges, any crime of violence, whether against people or property, for which the term of imprisonment imposed is at least 1 year, theft offenses, "national defense" offenses (such as transmitting certain defense information), commercial bribery, counterfeiting, forgery, trafficking in vehicles with altered identification numbers, and perjury. Foreign convictions will have the same effect, where the term of imprisonment was completed within the last 15 years.
Am I eligible for a Bond if detained by ICE?
You may qualify for a bond if you can prove to the Immigration Judge the following:
- You were not captured while crossing the border into the US;
- You will attend all scheduled hearings before the Immigration Court;
- You are not a danger to the community;
- You have not participated in terrorist activities; and
- You have not been convicted of a drug crime or an aggravated felony.
Just because you are eligible for a bond, does not mean the bond amount will be low. The lowest bond a judge can set is $1,500, but it is not uncommon for a judge to give a bond that is upwards of $10,000. To obtain the lowest possible bond, it is important to submit documentation to the judge showing good moral character, family ties, and community ties.
How many people are in detention in and around Los Angeles?
There are approximately 3,000 men and women in federal immigration detention in the Los Angeles area:
- Approximately 800-900 men are held in ICE custody at the Mira Loma Detention Center run by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in Lancaster, CA.
- Between 200-300 men and women in removal proceedings are held in ICE custody in beds rented from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in the Santa Ana Jail.
- Around 200 men and women are held in ICE custody at the Jame M. Musick Facility run by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in Anaheim, CA.
- Close to 450 men are held in ICE custody at the Theo Lacey Facility run by the private for-profit corporation GEO in the city of Adelanto in San Bernardino County, CA.
- For a short period of time (less than 24 hours), individuals are held in the ‘B18” center in the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles. There are five large cells where varying numbers of people can be held;
- ICE makes the decision of where to detain an individual and may do so without regard to the location of that person’s family, lawyer, or community.
What is “Prosecutorial Discretion” and how can I get it?
In a memorandum issued on June 17, 2011, the director of ICE explained how prosecutorial discretion should be used. Prosecutorial Discretion is the power that ICE Agents and Trial Attorneys have to decide whether or not to place an immigrant into removal proceedings, whether or not to detain an immigrant, and whether or not to proceed with prosecuting an immigrant’s case in Immigration Court. This discretion come from the recognition that ICE and the Immigration Courts do not have the capacity to deport every single immigrant in the US who is here in violation of the law, so they want to use their resources wisely and prioritize the deportation of immigrants who:
- Pose a danger to the national security of the US;
- Those with criminal convictions;
- Those who have been ordered deported, but have not left;
- Those who are recent arrivals who have less ties to the US; and
- Those who have a history of consistently disobeying immigration law.
It is important to remember that Prosecutorial Discretion is NOT amnesty. If you are not already in removal proceedings, DO NOT turn yourself in to request prosecutorial discretion.
What is Cancellation of Removal?
Cancellation of removal is an immigration remedy available to some people faced with deportation. In exceptional cases, it will stop a person from being deported and award him permanent residency.
Who qualifies for Cancellation of Removal?
A person without legal status must prove that they have continuously resided in the US for a minimum of ten years, must demonstrate they have had good moral character for those ten years, and that their US citizen spouse or minor US children will suffer extreme and unusual hardship should the applicant be deported. Permanent residents convicted of certain crimes who are subsequently placed into removal proceedings may also be eligible for cancellation of removal. Permanent residents must prove they were continuously present in the US for a minimum of seven years and a lawful permanent resident for five years, and must not be convicted of an aggravated felony.
Mathew HigbeeAttorney at LawMathew Higbee utilizes his unique blend of legal and professional experience to deliver success for his clients. He has handled a wide-range of cases in both criminal and civil courts. He has served as a prosecutor and defense counsel. He is a frequent commentator and guest writer for various media.
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