Immigration Detention: Why legal representation can be crucial to detainees

The American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) recently reported that the United States has a crisis situation managing almost half a million immigrants in more than 250 detention center facilities as reported in 2011 by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”). What concerns people connected to the immigration system is the large percentage of detained immigrants who did not need to be locked up and were not charged with any crimes. This group includes undocumented people seeking asylum from torture, families with small children, elderly people and those with serious physical and mental health conditions. Also being kept in detention centers are “…lawful permanent residents with longstanding family and community ties who are facing deportation because of old or minor crimes.[i]

"ICE's primary mission is to promote homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration. The agency has an annual budget of more than $5.7 billion dollars, primarily devoted to its two principal operating components - Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO)." DHS Website.

“ICE’s primary mission is to promote homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration. The agency has an annual budget of more than $5.7 billion dollars, primarily devoted to its two principal operating components – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).” DHS Website.

In 2012, ICE removed 409,849 individuals according to the DHS website page of removal statistics[ii].

In one example from several years ago, an unnamed undocumented California resident moved to Illinois for a job. Living in the suburbs of Chicago he met a woman to whom he became engaged. On his wedding day, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) officers arrested the man and detained him in a nearby ICE holding facility. The couple later determined the application for marriage license sent the red flag triggering the arrest and detention. The detained man was transferred to an out of state county detention center which made it difficult for his fiancée and lawyer to travel the increased distance to meet. Conditions for the man’s release were troublesome, as his application for asylum indicated his original home country no longer existed and he would likely face corporal punishment for other reasons if sent to alternative locations.

What happens if you don’t agree to comply with the proposed conditions for release from detention? You could sit in your detention facility for a long time. A recent publication on the website Immigration Equality highlights that, “Due to a series of harsh immigration laws that were passed in the 1990s, persons with minor visa violations, even asylum seekers, often end up in detention for months or years.[iii]” While in detention, many immigrants file complaints to the office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at DHS. Immigrants who are LGBT and/or HIV-positive have additional concerns for their health and safety at detention centers and in general detainee populations. The Immigration Equality website has additional links to articles addressing these issues.

Humans rights lawyers and organizations created “Know Your Rights” a video published by the American Bar Association: ABA Know Your Rights.

The video first suggests that detained immigrants find and hire a licensed attorney and warns against something called a Notario because they are not allowed to represent you in immigration courts because notarios are not licensed attorneys. The video also discusses the Notice to Appear that might have been filed with the court and outlines a few of the situations where detention occurs. You may be able to stay in the United States even if you are arrested and detained by ICE officers. Even if you are ordered to be removed from the United States, an attorney can file motions with the immigration court seeking relief from removal for certain reasons.

The Law Office of KiKi M. Mosley, works to counsel and represent detained immigrants and file the proper petitions with immigration courts necessary to protect an undocumented man, woman or child. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.


[i][i] American Civil Liberties Union Website: Immigrants Rights, Immigration Detention.

[iii] Immigration Equality Website: Detention.

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One thought on “Immigration Detention: Why legal representation can be crucial to detainees

  1. Unfortunately there are plenty of people out there willing to take advantage of immigrants that are seeking legal counsel. The only people that have the qualifications necessary to give proper advice are licensed immigration attorneys.

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