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Things to know about immigration detention in New Jersey

You may be one of thousands of people who came to New Jersey in search of better lives for themselves and their children. Often, immigrants flee war-torn nations, abject poverty and imminent violence. Others are entrepreneurs who wish to invest in the American economy and add their own business ideas and savvy skills to the mix. Life as an immigrant is often challenging; many people face language barriers and/or obstacles with their visas or other residency status issues.

If your transition here has sometimes caused you worry or stress, you are definitely not alone. In fact, many immigrant families say they live in constant fear of separating from one another due to possible immigration detention. Understanding the deportation process and knowing where to turn for help may help you avoid problems and alleviate stress so you and your family can focus on building a new, happy life in the United States.

Status situations that may lead to detainment

If your papers and status are in order, there's little to worry about with regard to ICE arrests or detainment. However, any of the following situations are cause for concern, as each increases your risk of placement in an immigration detention center:

  • If you are undocumented, you are basically always at risk for immigration detention. Law enforcement pulling you over in a traffic stop, an employer calling your status into question on the job or an officer arresting you on suspicion of a crime might result in your detainment.
  • Perhaps, you have been living and working in the United States under a valid visa, but it has now expired and there's been a delay in its renewal. This causes your status to become unstable and places you at risk for deportation.
  • Whether documented or not, there are certain crimes that automatically place you at risk for deportation if you are arrested and charged.

Police and other immigration officials do not usually place people in immigration detention centers, unless they plan to seek removal. The immigration deportation system is separate from the criminal justice system. However, there is a limit to how long law enforcement can hold you or your family member in an immigration detention center. If that time expires, you are supposed to have the opportunity for bond release, pending deportation proceedings. Such situations can be utterly frightful, especially if you're worried about permanent separation from your family.

Many New York immigrants reach out for help by discussing their problems with experienced immigration and naturalization attorneys who know how to navigate the system and seek the best possible outcome in a given situation.

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