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13,000 immigrants, without convictions, detained in limbo

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As presidential campaigns heat up, Washington, D.C., residents will hear the issue of immigration frequently debated. The current immigration goal of the federal administration, as it pertains to detainment and deportation, is to detain and deport only undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of crimes.

However, a national news report that broke today revealed data that is in direct contrast to that goal and the stated goals of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. According to the news report, on one single day in October, more than 13,000 people were held in immigration detention who had not been convicted of a crime.

Being in the U.S. with an documented status is a civil offense, not a criminal offense. The news report stated that many of those who were detained had traffic violations and low-level drug offenses to their names. A much smaller number of them had been charged with or convicted of the violent crimes that ICE says it is trying to target.

According to ICE's data that the news report solicited, on Oct. 13 there were nearly 32,300 people detained, 40 percent of whom had not been convicted of a crime, nor were they awaiting criminal trial.

Those who have been convicted of certain crimes face two main potential consequences, inadmissibility or removability, depending on the exact nature of the crime. Those who face inadmissibility might not be able to renew a visa or reenter the country if they leave. Those who face removability could be subject to deportations.

Nonetheless, these prospects are much more difficult for people to deal with in a detainment. If you have a family member or loved one in immigration detention, you may want to consult with an immigration detention lawyer who may be able have him or her released on bond if he or she is not a flight risk or a danger to the public. Additionally, the lawyer should be able to pursue a waiver of inadmissibility or provide a deportation defense.

Source: Huffington Post, "No Conviction, No Freedom: Immigration Authorities Locked 13,000 In Limbo," Elise Foley, Jan. 27, 2012

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