Whether or not a detained immigrant will have the opportunity to appear before an Immigration Judge (IJ) depends on several factors. An immigrant who already has a removal (deportation) order from the past will not be able to see an IJ:
- Immigrants who left the United States after a removal order and then re-entered again
- Immigrants who never left the US after their removal order was issued or after a grant of voluntary departure
- Individuals who were issued an expedited removal order at the border.
Sometimes immigrants are not aware that they have removal orders, either because they never received notice of their removal proceedings or court hearings or for another reason did not attend their court hearings. When an immigrant does not attend their immigration court hearing, they are ordered removed in their absence. In some cases, like if the immigrant did not receive proper notice of his hearing, an immigrant may be able to have his case reopened so that he can see the judge.
Additionally, immigrants who have crimes that are considered serious under the immigration law (“aggravated felonies”) and who are not lawful permanent residents may be given summary orders of removal and not permitted to see the IJ. This category includes:
- Conditional residents and non-immigrants
- Individuals who over-stayed their visas
- Individuals who entered the United States unlawfully.
Immigrants who do not fall into one of the above categories will be eligible to see an IJ.
Sometimes ICE officers will try to persuade immigrants to sign stipulated orders of removal and thus give up their right to see the IJ. It is important to understand that, no matter what ICE tells the immigrant, orders of removal are exactly the same under the law as removal orders entered by IJs. They are not the same as voluntary departure grants, which IJs can grant instead of removal orders and which have certain benefits over removal orders.
For more information, please see the following video on Going to a removal hearing in immigration court.
How long will it take for a detained immigrant to see an Immigration Judge?
The amount of time can change, depending on the volume of the court’s docket. It is common for immigrants to wait between 2 and 4 weeks to have their first hearing with the Immigration Judge. If ICE has issued a bond, an immigrant can pay that bond and be released before their first detained hearing.
Detained immigrants may not receive notice of their first court date. If a court date has been set, an immigrant can find out about it by calling the toll-free number for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) at 1-800-898-7180. From detention centers, immigrants can call EOIR through the pro bono platform by dialing code “111.” The immigrant will need to have his or her alien registration number (A number) handy when making this call.
Where will the immigration hearing be held?
Hearings will most likely take place by video-conferencing. Normally, the judge, the government attorney, and the immigrant’s attorney (if they have one) will be at the Chicago Immigration Court located at 525 W. Van Buren St., Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60607. The immigrant will appear by video from McHenry County Jail, Tri-County Detention Center, Dodge County Detention Center, or Kenosha County Detention Center. If the immigrant is at one of the other jails prior to his hearing, he will be moved to one of these jails at least one day before his hearing.
Some immigrants are brought to court in-person in certain circumstances. If an immigrant is brought to Chicago for an in-person hearing, the hearing will happen in the basement of 101 W. Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60605. Family members and friends will have to pass through security at 101 W. Congress and then ask a building guard to escort them down to the courtroom, which is in a small corridor in the building basement.