What to do if immigration detains you

Do not take “voluntary departure” (that is, do not agree to leave the United States) without first talking to a lawyer. Signing a voluntary departure agreement means that you won’t get a hearing, you will have to leave the U.S., and you may never be allowed to enter the U.S. again or get legal immigration status.

•Do not sign “stipulated orders of removal” without first talking to a lawyer. Signing a stipulated order means that you waive your rights to a hearing before a judge and serves as a final order of removal (deportation) signed by the judge.

If you are arrested in an immigration detention center and you don’t want to return to your home country, you have the right to request a meeting with an immigration officer.

•Do not expect Immigration agents or the judge to explain your options, or to give you the right information. Wait to speak with a lawyer before saying or doing anything.

•You have the right to call an attorney or your family if you are detained. You have the right to be visited by an attorney in detention (Immigration jail).

•When you get a lawyer, you should tell the lawyer everything you think is important about your immigration case, including whether you have ever been arrested for a crime. It is important that anyone giving you legal advice knows everything about your case so that she or he can give you the best advice. It does not pay to lie or keep information from your lawyer.

•In most cases, Immigration must decide within 48 hours whether to put you into immigration proceedings (in front of a judge), and whether to keep you in custody or to release you on bond. After 72 hours, Immigration must give you a Notice to Appear (NTA). This is the notice that provides you with the information about your hearing before an Immigration Judge.

The right to pay a bond

•In most cases, you have the right to ask to be released from detention by paying a bond, or to ask for a bond hearing in front of a judge. (Bond is an amount of money paid to the government to guarantee that you will attend future court hearings.) The judge, though, may order that you stay in detention if the judge decides that you might not show up for your court hearing or that you are dangerous to others.

If you are going to be deported

•Try to speak with an immigration lawyer before leaving. If you leave, you may not be allowed to come back into the country for a certain number of years. It is important you know this before you leave, because if you come back earlier than you’re allowed to, you can be arrested for having committed a serious crime.

•If you are afraid to return to your home country, notify your deportation officer and the court immediately. You may be eligible to file a claim for asylum or other relief.

•If you are not given a hearing before an immigration judge, find out why and let your lawyer know immediately.