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Illinois immigrants could face wait in jail after minor offense

Residents of Chicago, Illinois, who are legal immigrants to this country may realize that one of the immigration consequences of criminal convictions for certain offenses is that they may lose their right to stay in the United States and therefore be deported.

Aside from the risk of being deported, however, immigrants who are merely charged with a crime but not convicted can deal with serious consequences that may violate their constitutional rights. It has been a standing custom that, when an immigrant winds up in jail for even a relatively minor criminal offense, federal officials will issue a detainer request, telling local authorities to keep the immigrant in jail, without the possibility of bond, for up to 48 hours.

The problem is that police often, understandably, take this federal "request" as an order from a higher authority. Therefore, they are reluctant not to comply with it even if the end result is that a person stays in jail without getting bail to which he or she may have a right. Furthermore, in practice, the 48-hour wait time can turn in to weeks of waiting in a jail without any sort of due process whatsoever.

Such was the case of one lady who was held in jail without bail for several weeks and eventually pleaded guilty to violating a restraining order. A federal magistrate recently ruled that local officials had no constitutional right to hold the woman in order for the federal government to verify her immigration status. The magistrate ruled thus even in the face of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's detainer request. Other federal courts have issued similar decisions.

Getting charged with a crime is scary enough for a citizen of the United States. Facing a criminal charge can be particularly intimidating for an immigrant, even a legal immigrant, because they face the possibility of deportation. Moreover, as this case illustrates, there is a possibility that an immigrant accused of a crime will have to wait in jail. Fortunately, an experienced and zealous immigration law attorney may be able to offer such people valuable assistance.

Source: OregonLive.com, "Mandatory immigration detainers are unconstitutional: guest opinion," Elliott Young, May 4, 2014.

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Godoy Olivieri, Ltd.-An immigration law firm

2021 Midwest Road
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Chicago, IL. 60608
312-445-0591 local
800-264-2752 toll free
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