QUESTION: If one is detained for violating immigration laws, do you remain in the detention facility until an immigration judge decides your case ( either a stay or order to leave the US)?

Most think the answer is yes. But that is not quite true; there are ways to beating this unpleasant event.

First, of course, you must engage an immigration attorney. One who knows his stuff. But you also need to be aware of alternatives you may discuss with the attorney (Most attorneys who have so many cases, may not give your case the seriousness it deserves).


The Office of Detention and Removal (DRO) detains those who are a threat to the public or national security, and those who must be detained under immigration laws (e.g. conviction of certain firearms offenses).  But there are shortage of  bed space in detention centers. Because of this and other factors, the DRO often relies on alternatives to detention.

(1) Release on an Order of Recognizance (ROR):

The individual is released from detention under certain restrictions, including regular reporting to DRO officers and appearing at all immigration court proceedings. ROR is mostly for individuals who do not have the financial resources to post a bond, but do not pose a threat to the public or national security. If the individual fails to appear for a hearing, he or she will be ordered deported and will be subject to mandatory detention when arrested.

(2 ) Appearance bond: This is more restrictive than ROR. The individual posts a bond of not less than $1,500 dollars, which is forfeited if he or she fails to appear in court as required or upon any other demand by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

(3)Electronic Monitoring Devices (EMD): This requires the individual to wear a monitoring ankle bracelet or report by telephone to a case manager. EMD is designed to improve court appearance rates and prevent individuals who are ordered removed from absconding. This started out as a pilot program, but is now available nationwide.

(4)Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP): A pilot program is available to individuals who:

  • are not subject to mandatory detention,
  • who are in immigration court proceedings or awaiting removal from the United States,
  •  who are residing within the managed area (at time of writing June 2007:Baltimore, MD; Delray Beach, FL; Denver, CO; Kansas City, MO; Miami, FL; Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco, CA; Portland, OR; and St. Paul/Bloomington, MN),
  • who are unlikely to pose a threat to the public or national security.

Participants are assigned to a case specialist who is responsible for monitoring them through an electronic monitoring device, home visits, work visits and telephone reports.
ISAP – Cons/Pros 

A private contractor, Behavioral Interventions (BI), operates ISAP. The the primary goal of ISAP is to improve rates of appearance at hearings and compliance with immigration judges’ final orders. ISAP has three phases:

  • Phase one (“intensive phase”): This lasts for thirty days. The participant wears an (EMD , is subject to nightly curfews, and must report to the BI office three times a week. BI also visits participants’ home at unscheduled times and calls at certain times of the day to ensure they have not fled the area. If the participant complies with phase one, the EMD is taken off and he or she is moved to phase two.
  • Phase two (“intermediate” phase): There is no curfew, but the participant must report to BI one day a week. BI also conducts one home visit each month in a sixty- day period.
  • Phase three (“regular phase”): The participant reports to the BI office twice a month and remains on this phase until the court issues a decision or the DRO orders the participant’s release from ISAP.

For those who would otherwise be detained in jail, ISAP is a great alternative. The restrictions get fewer and fewer as time passes and as they comply with the requirements. But  some participants may have problems complying with the requirements because of work, school and family obligations, do not live close to the BI office, or have no reliable transportation to get to the BI office.

Fo Related information, see Mwalimu Removal entry


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