Is your loved one detained? Thousands of people go through immigration custody and detention each year. In NY, Varick Street Detention Center is a service processing center located in Manhattan where immigrants are held for processing before being moved to other detention facilities in New York or New Jersey. The major detention centers that they can be moved to are Buffalo Federal Detention Facility or Orange County Correctional Facility in NY, or Essex County Correctional Facility, Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility, Bergen County Jail or Hudson County Correctional Facility in NJ.
If your loved one was picked up and needs to go through criminal court before being detained by immigration, then they may be in one of many county jails as well. For instance, someone arrested in Mount Vernon, NY might be held in Valhalla until their criminal case is decided.
If you are not sure where your friend or family member is being held, you can locate them using the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) locator here
Since most people are unfamiliar with the process I’ll post some tips and general information here that can assist with finding a family member. If you need additional assistance contact an immigration attorney.
Visiting your friend or family member:
- Once you have found your friend using the ICE detainee locator tool that I linked above, you can visit the website of the detention center/prison to find out their visiting hours and whether or not you can call them or send money.
- You may not have access to your friend or family member the first day or two that they are detained, but within a few days you should be able to visit. Know what times you are allowed to visit before you go and be prepared for long waits or periods of time where you will not be allowed access due to different procedures that might be going on that day.
- The actual visiting experience may vary depending on what facility they are located at, but most of the time you are allowed to see them for 30 minutes and will talk to them through a glass window or partition. Be sure to check the website and prison rules to see if you will be able to give them small items like cards or photos while you are there.
Using an immigration lawyer:
- The attorney that you select for your loved one is very important. They will be able to visit your friend or relative and prepare the best case for the bond hearing. They will be able to meet with them outside of regular visiting hours.
- The main thing that a lawyer will want to do is to get your friend or relative released on bond, and they will be able to use information that they get from speaking with friends and relatives to help make the case in court.
- Help your loved one by providing the lawyer with information and proof on ties to the US, information about US citizen family members (marriage to a US citizen, US citizen children), connection to the community etc. You can also help by attending the bond hearing to show the actual support that your friend or relative has from the community. Also, be prepared to help by submitting a written affidavit about your relationship with your friend or relative and the type of support that you will be able to provide once they are released.
- Money will have to be paid for the bond in order to get your friend or relative released from immigration custody. Know where you are getting the money from before the hearing.
- Bond amounts range, but can go as high as $10,000 in some cases and can be as low as $1500 in others. You must pay the bond in cashier’s check.
- The money paid for bond will be paid outside of the courthouse usually and the sooner it is done the sooner you can get your friend or relative out of jail or immigration custody.