Living in America illegally is not typically a criminal offense. If someone you know is being detained by Immigrant Customs and Enforcement (ICE) simply due to being in the USA illegally, he or she might be able to secure an Immigration Delivery Bond, also called Form I-352.
An Immigration Delivery Bond is a bond that promises the following: If ICE investigates and finds that someone is here illegally, that person will then return voluntarily to his home country. To obtain an Immigration Delivery Bond the person will appear before an immigration judge who will make the determination.
This type of bond is similar to a regular bond in that if the immigrant fails to appear for his court dates (which is part of the conditions of bond), then whoever signed for the bond will be summoned to court.
The judge will then order that person to turn the immigrant over to Homeland Security on a particular date and time. Failure to do so could mean the signer has to pay out the cost of the bond amount to the courts.
The bond allows the immigrant to work, spend time with family and friends, and get things in order if he ends up being deported.
If he is ordered to be deported, he can appeal the order, thereby buying more time before he has to return to his home country.
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Final thoughts: If you sign as the obligator of the bond and the immigrant is released, pending the outcome of the ICE investigation, you are responsible for making sure he turns himself into Homeland Security for deportation if that is the eventual outcome. Be sure you can trust him to do that before you sign on the line.
Related: How do immigration bonds work?