Disruption, it's something I have become quite accustomed to as the father of five children. Plans change, appointments rescheduled and calendar's rearranged; I've learned these last few years to expect the unexpected and to roll with the punches. However, in an immigration context some changes are not expected nor are they something you can easily get over, especially if it's a knock on your door at 6:00am by ICE officers.
There is an obvious increase in the amount of raids and apprehensions carried out nationally by the Immigration Service's enforcement arm, namely, Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE. Reports are coming in daily of new ICE enforcement teams being organized and given the charge to seek out and apprehend foreign nationals who have overstayed their visa, failed to report to school, were previously ordered deported or have a criminal conviction.
These teams using intelligence that includes information gathered from employment records, social security numbers, DMV records and fingerprints have proven most effective. Enforcement actions or as ICE euphemistically calls them, "audits", have resulted in raids on restaurants, manufacturers, farm operations and even private homes.
When it comes to timing for these raids or audits there is no safe period. Raids are often conducted during the busiest hours for employers and early in the morning for private residences. Individuals are separated from their loved ones and co-workers, interviewed and fingerprinted. Employer I-9 records are reviewed and the individual required to prove status and eligibility. This can be a frightening process even for those who are in status.
If the foreign national is undocumented the ICE officers will arrest and incarcerate the alien. The alien will quickly be put in the process known as deportation. During deportation proceedings the alien may apply for release from custody by posting a bond. Such a release is not automatic in all cases, especially if the alien has already received a previous order of deportation.
If the alien has already been ordered deported the ICE team can work quickly without much in the way of judicial review to put the alien on a plane back to his or her home country. At this point it is imperative that the foreign national call an immigration attorney immediately to see if there is some way to prevent his or her quick departure from the U.S.
Once in custody the undocumented alien will enter the enigmatic world of the immigration court process or deportation. A system that bares little semblance to the court system most folks are familiar with, a system with its own language, procedure and dynamics. Though it will initially look familiar, there is a judge, an attorney for the Immigration Service and your own counsel, the process will not.
Delays in the system are common causing great frustration with the immigration bar, adversarial feelings abound as counsel for the Immigration Service will be zealous in seeking the foreign nationals forced departure. It is confusing, it is different and it is scary.
As you can see by the previous an average day can quickly change to a series of events that will place you in a situation you do not want to experience. So what can you do?
If your immigration status or situation falls within this scenario just discussed, you should immediately seek out a reputable immigration attorney with experience in court. There are ways to proactively correct your status that will prevent that raid or knock on the door. Take the step now and meet with an attorney and find out what can be done before you experience that disruption at 6:00am.