There is an abundance of information that is extremely valuable to any arriving aliens or for person’s who may have, at one time, had legal status in the United States that has since expired. You should always know what your rights are and the actions you can take to begin the process of obtaining legal status.

Arriving aliens are any immigrants, who are apprehended at an airport, seaport or through a national border, while attempting to illegally enter the country. Some immigrants are not permitted to enter, while others are subject to Expedited Removal Proceedings. Expedited removal is when the government deports the alien prior to a hearing before the immigration judge.

There are some exceptions to these procedures. One is called Credible Fear. If an immigrant fears for their safety in their country, he/she should speak to an immigration official to request a Credible Fear Interview. Once in detention, the alien will be interviewed to determine if there is any credibility to their claim that they could be harmed if deported. If the officer feels that there is credible fear, a hearing will be set before an immigration judge. Eligibility to remain in the United States will be determined at that time.

If an alien has been deported previously, or has been ordered to self-deport, makes the claim to have continued fear of persecution in their country, they will receive a Reasonable Fear interview. The standard in making this decision is if the officer believes that there is a higher than 50% chance of harm being done to the person if returned to their country of origin.

Immigrants who have been residing in the US are convicted of certain crimes, they may be held without the possibility of being released on bond. Some examples of crimes resulting in mandatory detention are crimes involving extreme violence or drug trafficking. Crimes involving immoral behaviors, such as fraud, also fall into the category which will prevent an immigrant from being permitted to post a bond. Any immigrant who has a previous order of removal from the United States will be held without the possibility of release. U.S. Immigration law states that a person may be prevented from entering the country for at least 5 years if they have previously been deported. Immigration facilities hold mostly detainees who have committed civil violations related to the illegal entry into the U.S. However, illegal reentry is a federal crime and one that is taken very seriously. If convicted, the immigrant will most likely be given a mandatory prison sentence varying between several months to several years.

Once in immigration custody, immigrants who may be at risk for sexual assault or physical violence are placed in administrative segregation. This means that they are separated from other detainee’s for personal safety reasons. Many times, members of the LGTBQ community are automatically placed in this protective custody or, if requested, will be provided the option. Transgender immigrants are usually considered at risk for physical threats or harm, and therefore placed directly into administrative segregation. This is done for the safety and well being of the detainee. LGBTQ detainees are almost 98% more likely to suffer physical and/or sexual assault. When members of the LGBTQ community are placed in solitary confinement, though it is for their own protection, a period of 23 hours a day is spent by themselves. This has been proven to have negative effects on a person’s mental and physical health. Members of the transgender community are typically housed with immigrants of their sex assigned at birth. In addition to the extremely high risk for physical mistreatment, members of this community often do not have access to proper undergarments, sanitary protection or medical care. For these reasons, many organizations believe that all detainees in the LGBTQ community should be immediately paroled into the country.

Many who fight for the rights of immigrants believe that any person having a major health condition, that immigration facilities do not have the resources to treat, should be permitted release (on parole or bond) in order to obtain necessary medical treatment while their case is ongoing. When immigrants come into the United States, their medications are confiscated. The medical treatment, required for immigrants suffering from HIV or cancer, or requiring treatments such as dialysis, must be received regularly and the regimen must be followed precisely. For any time that passes without treatment or lack of correct medications, there is a likelihood of worsening health, causing devastating consequences.

It is not a good idea to attempt to visit a person being detained at an immigration facility unless you are lawfully in the United States. Though it is not required that you be a citizen, or even be a green card holder, you should definitely have valid immigration status. Worse than being turned away for not having proper identification is facing detention yourself.

All facilities have different policies pertaining to visitation. There are very few that allow “contact” visits, meaning hugging, holding hands or other physical contact is not permitted. Usually, there will be a window separating you and the detainee, and you will both have to speak into a phone receiver during your visit. Prior to visiting any facility, you should first contact the center so that you are prepared for what type of visit you will be having, what items will be permitted in the facility, when visiting hours begin and end etc.

If a detainee wishes to be transferred to another facility, he/she or their attorney may file a motion in the immigration court. The judge will use factors such as location of family members, employment opportunities, possible witnesses and/or evidence to determine if a change of facility will be granted. Without significant need for such transfers, they are usually denied.

Any person who feels that they have been mistreated while in immigration custody should immediately report any incidents to detention staff. If the alleged abuse or harassment is being committed by a staff member, the detainee may call the ICE hotline at 1-888-351-4024.

A complaint should also be filed with the Department of Homeland Security Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Your complaint will be investigated to determine if your rights have been violated.

To file a complaint, go to  You will be able to print the complaint form to mail in or complete and submit your complaint electronically.

You may e-mail the form to:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mail to:

Department of Homeland Security

Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

Compliance Branch

245 Murray Lane, SW

Building 410, Mail Stop #0190

Washington, DC 20528