How to Get an Immigrant Out of Jail

I spent my last 3 nights visiting 3 decent people in immigration custody.

To break stereotypes:

  • All 3 have lived here since the 1990s or earlier.
  • None are border crossers and all have several school age kids born in the US.
  • All 3 have US citizen spouses.
  • None have a felony involving violence on their record or a crime in the last decade.
  • None are from Central or South America.
  • But all 3 are in jail during the Holidays.

This article will answer the frequently asked question on How to Get an Immigrant Out of Jail.

Almost every day we gets calls and emails asking “How to Get an Immigrant Out of Jail.”

Many immigrants in custody are locked up due to encounters with law enforcement for old arrests


If they have no valid visas, temporary or permanent.

Most foreign nationals in jail are not able to ask for bail (known as “bond” in Immigration Law).

One type of immigrant who cannot request bond is an “arriving alien.”

Arriving aliens are defined as:

  • Caught at a border or other port of entry trying to be admitted, including those paroled (allowed to enter)
  • Interdicted and taken into the country even if not seeking admission;
  • Green Card holders categorized as seeking admission.

So, How to Get an Immigrant Out of Jail:

  1. Immigration may “parole” (release) legal permanent residents with no crimes that make them subject to mandatory detention
  2. Immigration may also “parole” (release) immigrants who prove “credible fear” of removal to their home countries.
  3. Immigration may release certain immigrants detained temporarily – after arrest by local, state or federal law enforcement – they might be bond eligible.

Back on September 30, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed a law which resulted in mandatory detention for all immigrants who committed a host of crimes.

The key date to remember is that immigrants released by criminal authorities after October 9, 1998 are subject to mandatory detention.

However, there are always exceptions.

A great immigration lawyer with extensive experience in detention cases may be able to get an immigrant out of Jail.

AND DO NOT FORGET: immigrants may be detained for being fugitives.

Nearly 40,000 immigrants are in custody in more than 250 jails.

Speaking to an immigration attorney with tremendous experience on detention may change the lives of the immigrant in jail as well as his family.

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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