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.

American Immigration Council Executive Director, Ben Johnson, addresses House committee

A recent immigration news blog reported the oral testimony of Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council before the House of Representatives, Committee of the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration and Boarder Security.[i] Johnson spoke about, “building a 21st century America: one that prospers and grows.” Growth and prosperity, according to many proponents of fair immigration reform, happens when a collective mix of people with a variety of backgrounds work together to create new jobs and a more effective workforce. “In other words, the quest for talent, and the role of immigrants as job creators, entrepreneurs, and innovators, is not an isolated enterprise. It is and should be an integral component of a broad based, comprehensive immigration reform,” Johnson said.

Johnson blames the current immigration system for preventing immigrant job creation. In 2010, he appeared on Fox News in a short debate on a study’s findings regarding the economic impact of immigration reform in the U.S.

Do you think it makes sense that America should welcome the smartest workforce with the best experience base? Most people will say yes to this question, but when you ask them if the smartest and most experienced workers should come from outside U.S. boarders, some say no. In his speech, Johnson addressed the concern that foreign-born workers will compete for U.S. citizens’ jobs. Not true according to Johnson, “…the overwhelming evidence finds that immigrants complement rather than compete with native born workers, and their presence in our workforce has a positive impact on the wages of all workers.” In his remarks to the committee, Johnson also talked about ‘skill gaps’ in many industries where there’s a great demand for high-skilled workers in knowledge-based economies where high-tech companies are founded immigrants.

The Law Office of KiKi M. Mosley works hard to help educate clients, colleagues and friends about the compelling issues in immigration, including debates on immigration reform. Feel free to share our blog and to comment and join in the conversation on our blog and on our Facebook and Twitter pages.