You should talk to an immigration lawyer if you or a person you know is in immigration detention. You have a better chance of winning you case if you have a lawyer. You have the right to hire a lawyer, but you do not have a right to a lawyer paid for by the government.
It is important to find a lawyer who regularly handles removal cases. These cases are very challenging, even for experienced lawyers. One way to find a good immigration lawyer is by contacting the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) referral service.
If you can’t afford to pay a lawyer, you can contact one of these organizations:
National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC)
208 S. LaSalle St., Ste. 1818 Chicago, IL 60604
From detention: (312) 263-0901 or by using the pro bono platform and entering NIJC’s code, 565.
For family members calling from outside of detention: Ph: (312) 660-1370; Fax: (312) 660-1505
Phone Intake Hours for Detained Immigrants and Their Family Members:
Tuesdays from 11:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M.
Legal Assistance Foundation (LAF)
120 S. LaSalle Street, Ste. 900 Chicago, IL 60603
These organizations do not have the resources to take every case, but even if they can’t take an immigrant’s case, they can still provide useful advice.
Also, if you are stopped or detained by the police, FBI, or immigration authorities, you should ask to speak to someone from your home consulate, unless you have a fear of being harmed in your home country. The Consulate contact information for Guatemala, Mexico, Poland, El Salvador, China, India, and Honduras is below:
Consulate General of Guatemala
205 N. Michigan Ave, #2350
Chicago, IL 60601
Tel: (312) 540-0781
Consulate General of Mexico
204 S. Ashland Ave.
Chicago, IL 60607
Tel: (312) 738-2383
Consulate General of the Republic of Poland
1530 N. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60610
Tel: (312) 337-8166
El Salvadoran Consulate General in Chicago
177 North State, 2nd Floor, Mezzanine
Chicago, IL 60601
Tel: (312) 332-1393
Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China
100 W Erie St
Chicago, IL 60654
Tel: (312) 803-0095
Consulate General of India
455 North City Plaza Dr, NBC Tower Building, Suite No. 850
Chicago, IL 60611
Consulate General of Honduras
4506 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60639
Tel: (773) 342-8281
Are individuals in immigration custody eligible to fight their cases to stay in the United States?
It depends. Immigration law is very complicated, and whether a person is eligible to try to remain in the United States depends on a number of factors, including the following:
- How long they have been in the United States
- How they entered and how many times they have entered the United States
- Whether they have parents, spouses, or children lawfully in the United States
- Whether they have a criminal history and what exactly this criminal history includes
Other relevant questions include an immigrant’s school attendance in the US, whether they have ever been harmed or abused in the United States or abroad, and whether the immigrant is afraid to return to their home country for a specific reason.
Individuals who fear they will be persecuted in their country of origin or who have been the victims of violent crimes or domestic abuse may also be eligible to fight their cases. You should talk to an immigration attorney to understand the options available. The immigration attorney should ask many detailed questions about the immigrant’s immigration history, family ties, and criminal history before concluding whether an immigrant qualifies to try to fight their case.
Is there anybody else I can contact?
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) has set up a hotline staffed by non-legal volunteers who will try to help you with your non-legal question.
You can call the hotline toll-free at 1-855-HELP-MY-FAMILY, or 1-855-435-7693.
For more information, please see the following video on When you or a family member are detained.
Updated: February 2017