What Happens When an Illegal Immigrant Commits a Crime?

If and undocumented immigrant is charged with committing a crime, there can be three different legal outcomes.

1. ICE Gets Involved

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enter information about an arrested immigrant into a database that is monitored. This department has the authority to take custody of the immigrant, investigate his standing in the U.S., and deport him.

If ICE chooses to investigate an immigrant who is held in custody, a detainer notice is sent to the jail and the immigrant is picked up, usually within two business days.

The local authorities that charged the immigrant with the crime can request that ICE allow him to go through the court system in the U.S., serve his time if convicted, and then ICE will process him for deportation. The final decision, however, is up to ICE as to whether or not to allow this process or to deport him without further process for the criminal charge.

2. Court First – Then Deportation

If ICE does not place a detainer on the immigrant, he will go through the normal court process to face his criminal charges.

He could be found not guilty and the charges could be dismissed, or he could be found guilty and be sentenced to incarceration. At any time during this process, ICE is allowed to step in and take custody of the detained immigrant.

Video: The deportation machine

3. Court Without Deportation

In some instances, the immigrant manages to get through the court system, gets sentenced, and completes his sentence without attracting the attention of ICE.

While ICE always has the right to investigate and deport an illegal alien, getting though the system without being detected increases the chance of not being noticed at all.

Final thoughts:  If you are in the country illegally and you are charged with a crime, be prepared for the possibility of deportation.

Related: 600-plus ‘criminal’ immigrants released amid budget cuts



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