Immigration detention occurs when a non-citizen is detained in a jail, a prison, or similar facility. These often occur in connection with criminal acts committed by the non-citizen alien. In such cases, the person will need to be detained while an immigration judge or panel determines the appropriate response, such as removal/deportation or a change in immigration status.

There are several immigration detention centers designed for the specific purpose of housing non-citizen aliens. These are located throughout the United States. Interested persons can locate detainees through online databases provided by immigration department authorities. Unlike prisoners who are U.S. citizens, immigration detainees can be transferred to different detention facilities without prior notice. Immigration detention centers are often owned privately rather than state-owned.

When Does Immigration Detention Occur?

As mentioned, immigration detention occurs mostly in connection with the commission of crimes. Specifically, the Secure Communities Program allows law enforcement personnel to scan the immigrant’s fingerprints and check their history in a database. If needed, the alien can be detained for up to 48 hours beyond their release from jail, allowing for immigration officials to take over the custody process and possibly deport the immigrant.

Immigration detention may also occur:

  • In relation to illegal immigration or border crossing (detention often occurs at the border itself)
  • In relation to a previous removal hearing or order
  • Violation of immigration laws, such as engaging in a fraudulent immigration marriage or other types of immigration fraud

Detention can also occur for administrative reasons, such as when a person is seeking asylum or refugee status. Immigrant detainees may have fewer rights than citizen prisoners.

Are There Any Alternatives for Immigration Detention?

Depending on the case, immigration authorities may extend alternative options to immigration detention. Detention alternatives can include electronic monitoring devices, a “release on order of recognizance,” Intensive Supervision Appearance programs (similar to house arrest), and other options. These all depend on factors such as the reason for detention and the person’s criminal history, if any.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Immigration Detention Issues?

Immigration detention cases can often involve a complex mix of immigration, criminal, and other areas of law. You may need to hire an immigration lawyer in your area if you or a loved one of yours needs help with immigration detention issues. Your attorney can provide legal representation, advice, and guidance when it comes to immigration and/or criminal statutes. If you need to attend any hearings or meetings, your lawyer can be on hand to guide you through the process and advise you on how to proceed.