Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) Holds

In New York Criminal Cases

As a New York criminal defense attorney, I am seeing an increase in the amount of immigrant clients who after being arrested are being detained by I.C.E., especially in Westchester. Our Westchester criminal defense lawyers are very experienced in representing immigrants who encounter problems with New York criminal justice system. There are numerous ways to handle situations involving immigrant clients and they usually depend on many factors.

The first question, our Westchester criminal defense lawyers hear from family members of detained immigrants, is "What is an ICE hold"? ICE stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is in general the specific division within the Department of Homeland Security which is responsible for deporting immigrants who are not legally in this country. The hold is a direction to the facility that once the person is ready to be released from the criminal charge, that the facility, often the County jail, must hold the person for ICE to come and pick them up. Often our criminal defense lawyers receive calls from a family member who are confused that their loved one is being held without bail on a relatively minor offense, such as a misdemeanor or driving while intoxicated.

Usually, they are not technically held without bail, but often inexperienced criminal defense lawyers and legal aides hear there is an ICE hold and just figure that bail is academic. There is always a right to bail, even though if the bail is posted, the person will not be released automatically, but will be held for ICE. This is not always a bad thing because in certain circumstances bail can be obtained in immigration court, so that the person is free while the criminal case continues. The downside is that if the person is bailed out on the criminal charge and then is held on immigration charges, they are not receiving credit for the time they are serving on the criminal charge, even though they are sitting in jail. So the decision on whether to ask for and post bail is always a careful strategic decision to make. This is especially true, since on most minor felonies and misdemeanors, the prosecutors figure the person will be getting deported anyway, so they are interested in cutting deals to get the immigrant out of the local jail and into federal custody.

It is often possible to avoid an ICE hold if our Westchester attorneys are retained early on. Typically, questions about a persons immigration status or whether they have papers are not asked at arrest or during arraignment. Usually, this information is only inquired when the person does an intake interview at the jail. In Westchester, the County jail at Valhalla has become very aggressive about notifying immigration and we are seeing Rikers Island notifying immigration more often than they used to. However, our Westchester criminal defense lawyers, if retained right away can attend the arraignment and often can put forth a well prepared bail application to have the person released on their own recognizance, which will avoid them going to the jail and avoid immigration questions from being asked. Likewise, even if bail is set, if family members are present with cash, bail can be posted at the Courthouse and the person is not sent to a facility, but released from the Court. In terms of ICE being notified, having an experienced criminal defense lawyer at arraignment makes all the difference in the world.

From our White Plains and Manhattan offices, our New York and Westchester County criminal defense attorneys proudly serve the communities of Westchester and New York City including the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Yonkers, White Plains, New Rochelle, Mt. Kisco, Rye, Mount Vernon, Greenburgh, Mamaroneck, Elmsford, Port Chester and Valhalla.