Who’s paying for these flights? Attorney explains process that takes immigrants to, from Abilene airport

Big Country Immigration

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — Immigrants arriving at the airport and getting on a bus to go to a detention facility is routine work for ICE, but in Abilene, immigrants are both arriving and departing.

“It might be something related to the priorities of deportation,” foreign attorney Douglas Interiano says.

Once immigrants arrive to a detention facility, they wait to fight their case in court, and some immigrants get the chance of a bond hearing.

“It’s on a case-by-case basis that you qualify for a bond hearing, because not everyone qualifies for it,” Interiano says.

At the hearing, ICE sets a fee that the immigrant has to pay to get out of the detention center, similar to bailing out of jail.

“Immigration and nationality law says it should not be less than $1,500,” says Interiano.

The price can be higher, and Interiano said family members usually pay the bond.

After the bond is paid, “you are released under custody or under supervision,” Interiano says. “It is because they might have determined that you are not a criminal, that you are not a risk of flight, and that you have relatives in the United States.”

Those who are released are given a time frame to appear in court, but it doesn’t have to be in Texas.

“It’s a matter of jurisdiction,” Interiano says. “You can request to move your hearing to the jurisdiction where you are going to reside.”

That’s when immigrants travel to bus stops or through airports, like the one in Abilene, to meet with their family members or US sponsors.

Interiano says the immigrants themselves, their families, or in some cases, employers, are the ones who pay for these flights. But in rare cases, ICE might chip in and pay instead.

“There will be instances when they want you out pretty quick, that’s when they’ll probably pay the plane ticket,” he says.

Some of the immigrants that are released don’t go show up to their court hearings, but that doesn’t mean they don’t take place.

“Whenever that happens, under immigration law, it doesn’t matter if you go to the hearing, the hearing will continue with you or without you, and what’s gonna happen is they will deport you in absentia,” Interiano says.

But he also says the process must be considered as to why they didn’t show up.

It is because they are not being educated in terms of how the judicial system works in the United States,” Interiano says. “It is because they are so afraid and they think they may not have a chance to stay in the United States, because they have not notified the court of their change of address and the court ended up sending that to a different address.”

We spoke to Rep. Jodey Arrington about the process, and he says he was unaware that it was happening. Click this link for more on Arrington’s reaction.

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