Q: When is someone considered to be “inside the U.S.”?
A: This area of the law is the subject of some controversy since the government would prefer that a person not be treated as if they were in the U.S. When someone is considered to be “inside” the U.S. for immigration purposes is very important. A person at a land border, a port, or airport is not considered to be within the U.S. A person is only “inside the U.S.” when they are no longer under any restraint or subject to questioning. For example someone at an airport before completing inspection is not “inside the U.S.” However once they pass through customs and step outside the doors and are heading out to find their ground transportation they are inside. The area within the inspection area is considered to be the functional equivalent of the border and therefore the person is treated as still outside the country.
Q: Under what circumstances am I protected by the U.S. Constitution?
A: All persons physically present in the U.S. are protected by the Constitution. This includes lawful permanent residents, non-immigrant visa holders, asylees, even undocumented persons. There is some dispute about whether persons found within 100 miles of the border and who have been present under 14 days are protected under the Constitution. A person who is protected under the Constitution has the right to have a hearing with an immigration judge before they can be deported.
Q: Should I be worried about being deported?
A: The immigration laws use the term “removal” not deportation. It sets forth grounds of inadmissibility which provide for removal and also contain grounds of deportability for persons who have been inspected and admitted into the country. If you meet one of the deportability grounds — then yes, you could be required to leave or be “removed.” There are many hundreds of different grounds of deportability which include using fraud to obtain a visa or status, committing crimes, remaining in the U.S. beyond the time granted when you arrived, etc.
Q: If I am arrested by ICE, will I be immediately deported without chance to say goodbye to my family?
A: No, you may not be immediately deported without first having had a chance to appear before an immigration judge. However if you were ordered to leave by an immigration judge and then you either failed to leave or returned before getting permission to return you could be removed immediately. If you have appeared before an immigration judge in the past you should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.
Q: What will happen if I am arrested by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)?
A: Once ICE determines that you are deportable they may arrest you. If you are lucky they will allow you to be free while you wait for your hearing. In most cases they will charge you and place you in removal proceedings. If you are detained at any moment during the process (for example, if you are in immigration custody), you have the right to speak to an attorney. Also, once you are in immigration custody, a decision will need to be made about the amount of “immigration bond” that you will be required to pay so that you can return to your U.S. home, resume your life, and wait for further proceedings. When you are placed in the removal proceedings, you have an opportunity to appear before an Immigration Judge. The immigration judge is the only one who can order you removed. Any statements made to the immigration judge will be used in your proceedings so you should also not speak with the immigration judge unless you have first spoken with your attorney.
Q: When being taken into custody by ICE, do I have the right to call family members? Or do I have the right to speak with an attorney?
A: Yes you have the right to call your family/friend, and you also have the right to speak with attorney.