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December 7, 2014

New Policy Change For ICE Holds

By Michael H. Joseph

The United State’s Attorney General issued a broad policy change this week concerning Immigration Customs Enforcement detainers on undocumented immigrants that are arrested for allegations of criminal conduct. The practice of detaining undocumented immigrants who are charged with crimes has been the norm since 2008 which caused many undocumented immigrants to be unnecessarily detained without regards to the merits of the criminal allegations. Typically what happened was that if an undocumented immigrant was arrested and held on bail, they would go to the local correctional facility whether it be Rikers Island or Manhattan House of Detention for New York City or the Westchester County Jail in Valhalla for criminal cases in Westchester County. Once they arrived at the local jail, if they did not have social security numbers, then the jail would notify Immigration Customs Enforcement, which is commonly known as ICE. Then ICE would issue a notification called an ICE hold, which would required the jail to hold the accused in jail until the criminal case was over, even if they had actually made bail. This practice forced defendants in many cases to plead guilty, just to get out of jail.

Now the Attorney General has issued a policy change that will allow jails to detain immigrants charged with crimes only when they present a danger to National Security. This policy shift was prompted by President’s Obama’s policy change to grant a de facto amnesty to undocumented immigrants. This new policy is called the priority enforcement which prioritizes immigration customs enforcement of dangerous individuals and targets them for deportation, as opposed to throwing all immigrants who have been accused of a crime, many of which are minor or petty offenses to be put through the deportation system. Our White Plains criminal defense lawyers see this as a positive change, which will allow immigrants who are charged with crimes to defend themselves, without having to sit in jail to do it. This new policy is in accord with our country’s general Constitutional principles that liberty should not be restrained until an individual has been found to be guilty.

Of course, this policy is not likely to help people who have deportation orders or those who have been deported and then returned. This is especially true where the person has a prior criminal conviction which Immigration considers to be a crime of moral turpitude or a criminal conviction, which would render someone inadmissible.

For over a decade our New York lawyers have aggressively represented New York and Westchester’s immigrant communities who have come into contact with the criminal justice system and we will continue to update the community on legal developments that affect them.

 
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