*Practice limited to federal immigration law. Licensed in NY, MA, but not in CA.

Asylum Applicants Can Spend Months or Years in Detention — Even Without a Criminal Record

For immigrants, being held in a detention facility can be a long and unpredictable experience. The United States government is, unfortunately, notoriously slow in processing applications for asylum and other immigration cases. While many people have a vague understanding that immigration courts have a large backlog, most people do not know the true effects that these delays can have on people.

On November 12th, 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported on particularly disturbing stories of immigrants who spent an enormous amount of time waiting, confined in American detention facilities. In some of these cases, asylum applicants have spent years in detention — despite having no prior criminal record at all.

Two Rwandan Men Have Been Held in Farmville, Virginia Since 2007

Located in Prince Edward County, Virginia, the Farmville Detention Center is one of the largest immigration facilities in the eastern half of the United States. Notably, this is a privately run detention center, operated by a company that has a contract with ICE.

The Los Angeles Times reports that two Rwandan nationals who are seeking asylum in the United States are currently being held at this facility. These men — despite having no criminal record whatsoever — have been in immigration detention since February of 2007. These men have been detained longer than any other people currently being held by ICE.

Many Immigrants Face Lengthy Detention

Sadly, immigrants being held for months or even years in a U.S. immigration detention facility is not unusual. According to the Los Angeles Times, a Mexican man, whose most serious prior criminal conviction is a drug possession charge, has been held at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility in Imperial County, California since 2012.

Most People in Immigration Detention Do Not Have Criminal Records

TRAC Immigration provides comprehensive data and statistics on the people who are being held by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The majority of the people who have been detained have never been charged with any sort of criminal offense.

TRAC Immigration took a snapshot of detainees on June 30th, 2018. At that time, more than 44,000 people were being held in immigration detention facilities. Of that number, 58 percent had no prior criminal convictions. Another 21 percent only had minor violations — often traffic-related incidents on their record. Yet, in many cases, these migrants were held for extended periods of time, despite the fact that they posed absolutely no danger to any person.

It is worth noting that TRAC Immigration data indicates that 71 percent of the people being held in immigration detention centers in the United States are currently being held in facilities that are operated by private, for-profit companies.

Contact Our Los Angeles Asylum Lawyer Today

At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our top-rated California immigration lawyer has the skills and experience needed to handle complex asylum claims. If you or your loved one is applying for asylum in the United States, you need professional legal representation. To schedule a fully private immigration law consultation, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Los Angeles law office today at (213) 262-2000.

Josh Goldstein
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