Hotline Operator FAQ
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    Immigration Court

    Caller has first court coming up shortly, doesn’t have representation, and has not filed anything.

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    Caller just arrived in the US and not sure what next step is while waiting for immigration court appointment, what do they need to do?

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    Caller needs someone to help fill out asylum application.

    • Warn them about the one-year deadline – the asylum application needs to be filed before the one year anniversary of their entering the United States.
    • EOIR Links to the following resources to explain asylum
    • USCIS Info on Defensive (immigration court) asylum process
    • Asylum form (I-589) information page in Spanish: https://www.uscis.gov/es/i-589
      • Form must be completed in English
      • Still looking for a recent/relevant Spanish translation of the form
    • El Proyecto de Apoyo para Solicitantes de Asilo (o ASAP por sus siglas en inglés)
    • Give Immigration Court Helpdesk Info
    • Explain that some orgs offer appointments for consultations, but most orgs are not taking on cases for full representation at the moment.
      • [Website link for list of orgs will be inserted here.]
    • Give list of private attorneys
      • Explain there is no fee to submit an asylum application, but a private attorney will charge a fee to work on the asylum case
      • [Website link for attorneys will be inserted here.]

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    • Asylum in Removal Proceedings

      Complete a draft application and if able visit the YMCA help desk at 1919 Smith Street  23flr, Houston, TX 77002 to have it reviewed by an attorney Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal (uscis.gov), dl (justice.gov)

      Complete la aplicación y si es possible visite la oficina del YMCA en la dirección 1919 Smith Street piso 23, Houston, TX 77002 para tenerlo revisado por un abogado  I-589 Solicitud de asilo y de retención de expulsión tradución al español (theadvocatesforhumanrights.org), dl (justice.gov)

      Tahirih - must be victim of gender-based violence (866) 575-0071
      GHIRP (713) 561-3059
      JFON (713) 454-6470
      South Texas College of Law (713) 646-2990
      University of Houston Law Centre (713) 743-2094
      YMCA (713) 339-9015 (713) 758-9280

    • Private Attorney Referral List

      At this point, we recommend you look for a private attorney to help with your immigration case. Our list of private attorneys in the Houston area is attached. These attorneys will charge fees for their services, but some may have payment plans available.

      A este punto, recomendamos que busque un abogado privado para ayudar a su caso de inmigración. Nuestra lista de abogados privados en Houston esta adjunto. Estos abogados cobran pero posiblemente aceptan planes de pago.

    Detention

    Caller is trying to find someone who entered the United States but they have not heard from them.

    • People enter the United States in several ways:
      • At a legal port of entry (on the physical land border or at an airport), presenting paperwork from a consulate that gives the person permission to enter the U.S.
        • Will be allowed to enter the U.S., non-detained.
      • At a legal port of entry, with a CBP One appointment, asking for asylum.
        • More than likely person will not be detained, but it is still a possibility
      • At a legal port of entry, without a CBP One appointment, asking for asylum.
        • Will most likely be detained by ICE while waiting for a credible fear interview
      • Crossing the southern border of the U.S. between lawful ports of entry and then either turning themselves in to CBP or being caught by CBP
        • Will most likely be detained by ICE while waiting for a credible fear interview
      • Crossing the southern border of the U.S. between lawful ports of entry but never caught by CBP
    • In all but the first scenario above, it is worthwhile checking the ICE Detainee Locator
      • Person needs to scroll down and use “Búsqueda por Información Biográfica/Search by Biographical Information”
        • They need to enter name, country of birth, adding date of birth helps
        • Note: It has been my experience that when CBP officers are entering the person’s information they frequently misspell either the first or last name, especially if someone has a different variation of a common name (Hernandez/Hernandes), so they should try a few variations if the person doesn’t pop up the first try.
        • If the person has not yet been transferred to ICE custody from CBP custody, they probably will not show up in the locator yet.
    • If the person the caller is looking for falls into the last scenario listed above, there is no central organization or way to find the person, they have to wait for contact.
      • Just a suggestion: The immigrant could have run out of money to pay their cell/mobile phone bill. If possible, the caller could try to pay it, so the phone starts working again.
      • You can also point them to nomoredeaths.org page: Searching for someone missing at the border? Page can be translated to Spanish using google translate
        • Note/Caution: this page includes the possibility that the person the caller is looking for passed away while trying to cross the southern border of the United States. But it also gives other information on how to search, including in the instance where it has been a short amount of time without contact (i.e. trying an emergency rescue) or if the person may have disappeared in Mexico.

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    • Find a Family Member in Detention

      Find your family member in detention search (ice.gov)

      Encuentre su familiar en detencion search (ice.gov)

      To search for an unaccompanied child call 800.203.7001

      Para buscar un menor de edad detenido llame al 800.203.7001

    Detained callers with criminal record seeking assistance

    • The person needs to know that the outcome of their criminal case can have a serious (negative) impact on their immigration case.
    • Not all criminal attorneys are aware enough of how criminal matters can impact immigration case and status
    • Immigration cases where the individual has a criminal history are very complicated and require specialized analysis. We strongly recommend that they contact a private attorney, many of the nonprofit LSPs that do immigration do not have criminal expertise.
      • HOWEVER, we still need to add them to the ILSF database. We need this for statistical and reporting reasons, even though they will more than likely not get an attorney that way.
      • [Insert link to crimmigration attorneys]
    • We also encourage them to get as much documentation about their criminal history as they can. In particular, the disposition of the case (i.e. what happened: was the case dismissed or were they convicted, of what, and what the sentence was).

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    • Private Attorney Referral List

      At this point, we recommend you look for a private attorney to help with your immigration case. Our list of private attorneys in the Houston area is attached. These attorneys will charge fees for their services, but some may have payment plans available.

      A este punto, recomendamos que busque un abogado privado para ayudar a su caso de inmigración. Nuestra lista de abogados privados en Houston esta adjunto. Estos abogados cobran pero posiblemente aceptan planes de pago.

    Caller wanting to help a detained family member

    If the caller is still trying to find the person, they need to check the ICE Detainee Locator
    • Unless the caller knows the person’s A#, the caller needs to scroll down and use “Búsqueda por Información Biográfica/Search by Biographical Information”
      • They need to enter name, country of birth, adding date of birth helps
      • Note: It has been my experience that when CBP officers are entering the person’s information they frequently misspell either the first or last name, especially if someone has a different variation of a common name (Hernandez/Hernandes), so they should try a few variations if the person doesn’t pop up the first try.
      • If the person has not yet been transferred to ICE custody from CBP custody, they probably will not show up in the locator yet.
    Once the caller knows what detention facility the person is at, they can find information about the facility and how to get in touch with the detained person by searching for the facility on this site:
    If the caller is looking for an attorney for the detained person, please enter the information in the ILSF database, we need to have them included for statistical and reporting purposes.
    • Nevertheless, advise them that there is a very long waitlist at the moment for free detained immigration legal services. We recommend contacting a private attorney and not waiting to be contacted by a nonprofit LSP.
    • [Insert private attorney list link here]
    For more information about detention and what the detained person may/should be experiencing, you can share the National Detainee Handbook
    If the detained person is experiencing problems in detention, it could potentially be reported to the Office of Immigration Detention Ombudsman (OIDO)

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    • Find a Family Member in Detention

      Find your family member in detention search (ice.gov)

      Encuentre su familiar en detencion search (ice.gov)

      To search for an unaccompanied child call 800.203.7001

      Para buscar un menor de edad detenido llame al 800.203.7001

    • Private Attorney Referral List

      At this point, we recommend you look for a private attorney to help with your immigration case. Our list of private attorneys in the Houston area is attached. These attorneys will charge fees for their services, but some may have payment plans available.

      A este punto, recomendamos que busque un abogado privado para ayudar a su caso de inmigración. Nuestra lista de abogados privados en Houston esta adjunto. Estos abogados cobran pero posiblemente aceptan planes de pago.

    How can a detained person file for voluntary departure?

    Short answer, you ask the judge at either a master calendar hearing, the start of the merits hearing or at the end of the merits hearing before the judge gives a decision. There is no form or anything formal to be filed, it is usually an oral/verbal request.
    There are requirements to qualify for voluntary departure, it is recommended they consult with an attorney to make sure they are eligible
    • If the caller wants to speak with an attorney, please enter the information in the ILSF database, we need to have them included for statistical and reporting purposes.
    • Nevertheless, advise them that there is a very long waitlist at the moment for free detained immigration legal services. We recommend contacting a private attorney and not waiting to be contacted by a nonprofit LSP.
    • [Insert private attorney list link here]
    If they are granted voluntary departure while in detention, they may be kept detained until departure, but they DO NOT have to pay a bond.
    Resources from EOIR
    Resources from FIRRP

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    • Private Attorney Referral List

      At this point, we recommend you look for a private attorney to help with your immigration case. Our list of private attorneys in the Houston area is attached. These attorneys will charge fees for their services, but some may have payment plans available.

      A este punto, recomendamos que busque un abogado privado para ayudar a su caso de inmigración. Nuestra lista de abogados privados en Houston esta adjunto. Estos abogados cobran pero posiblemente aceptan planes de pago.

    What options could a person have to be released on bond from a detention facility?

    Not everyone is eligible to be released from detention on bond: under the law, some people must be mandatorily detained. Some of the things considered when ICE/the courts make this determination are criminal convictions, manner of entry to the U.S., and whether the person is determined to have a credible fear after a credible fear interview.

    • Discussing whether someone should be mandatorily detained would be considered giving legal advice, so I would recommend they read the guides below from FIRRP

    There are 3 different opportunities to ask for a bond before the end of an immigration case. The FIRRP resources below explain all three.

    • When a person is transferred to ICE from CBP, ICE can make the determination that a person can be released with the payment of a bond in a certain amount.
    • If ICE does not offer a bond at this point, or if the amount is very high, the now detained person can ask for a bond hearing in front of an immigration judge.
    • There should also be a custody review after a person has been detained for 90 days or more.

    ICE information on how to post a bond once it has been determined:

    Resources from FIRRP:

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