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Immigration Detention System Shows Ugly Flaws in North Carolina


A 30-year-old immigrant, married to an American woman, with a very young son, was arrested on September 28, 2009, taken from his family home in Durham, North Carolina, a New York Criminal Lawyer reported.

“I was scared, but in the back of my mind, I just felt that everything would eventually be OK because I was a citizen and he was married to me,” said the immigrant’s wife. She is a mental health therapist, born and raised in the United States.

It’s been more than a year and a half and every request for release on bond has been denied, thanks to two misdemeanor drug possession charges from 1998. The authorities feel these charges make him a flight risk, which means he stays in prison until they make a final decision, according to a Bronx Criminal Lawyer.

While this particular man has a lawyer, many of the detainees in ICE facilities never get the chance to see one, because their facilities tend to be in isolated locations, which makes the acquisition of an attorney much more expensive. The man in question is nine hours from his home and two hours from his own attorney.

“Unlike in the criminal system, where if someone can’t afford a lawyer they’re appointed one, in the immigration system you have a right to a lawyer, but you have to find and pay one for yourself,” a representative of the National Immigrant Justice Center tell.

Fortunately, the wife of the North Carolina immigrant can hire a lawyer, but many detained in similar circumstances cannot. She gets the money from her mother and grandmother, who have paid $14,000 so far, and that might only be the beginning. There are also travel expenses, application fees for immigration forms, and counseling fees for wife and son.

“If it wasn’t for them, we would probably be out of the country,” said the wife, referring to her mother and grandmother.

The immigrant did illegally enter the country, but at the age of eight, brought by his mother. Eventually, he gained a work permit of his own. But because he entered the country as a minor, his immigration status relied on his mother’s status. She was denied permanent residency in 2008, which invalidated her son’s immigration status. When Immigration Services sent him a notice to appear in court, it was sent to the wrong address. They later admitted their mistake but only after the man was arrested and ordered deported.

It is the job of a legal counsel to do their best to ensure that justice is served. If you are experiencing a legal issue and do not know where to turn, contact Stephen Bilkis and Associates for advice and guidance.

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