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Webinar: ICE Humanitarian Parole in the time of COVID-19

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Requesting Humanitarian Parole is possible without an attorney. This webinar aims to provide assistance to those without law degrees or attorneys (in other words, they are appearing pro se) who must complete a request. Within you will find detailed guidance on each step of the request process and practical tips and insights shared by our facilitators Katrina, Mark and Diego.

Watch the webinar: ICE Humanitarian Parole in the time of COVID-19 

Key Times in the Webinar Video: 

14:17 What is Parole? 

17:39 Humanitarian Parole in the age of COVID-19 

20:39 Two pieces to consider 

23:28 Identify Sponsor 

26:51 Collaborate with Sponsor for Letter Preparation 

33:34 Complete Pro Se COVID-19 Parole Request Form 

34:57 Collect Evidence 

47:02 Translate Documents in English 

48:21 Final Review of Application 

56:30 Send Document 

1:01:11 My Humanitarian Parole was Granted – What now? 

1:05:25 Our experience on the ground in LA, Ocilla & Folkston, GA 

Helpful Documents

Parole Determination Worksheet

PowerPoint Slides of the Webinar

Q & A

What documents need to be translated into English and notarized? 

ICE will very likely not consider any document that is not in English. Try to get every document you submit translated into English.  

Affidavits are not required to be notarized; however, we recommend these types of documents be notarized, if possible. When a document is notarized, it provides an extra layer of legitimacy. 

  • Some lists for detention centers say “notarized letter.” As a best practice, we always recommend it.  

Certificates of translation are required for each document that is translated because the certificate should specify which precise document was translated. The certificate of translation itself does not need to be notarized. You must have a certificate of translation. Notarized is better, but this is not required. What is important is that the translator provides the following: 

  • Fluent to translate from X language to X language; 
  • Translated X document;
  • True and correct to best of ability;
  • Signature and date;
  • Can include an identity document (but not required) 

For court, keep in mind that having a family member or friend translate may not be allowed and may be viewed less favorably by the court than a third party or independent translator.   The court may question whether a friend or family member is impartial in their translations. 

How do you follow-up after you've submitted a request? How long do you wait, who do you follow-up with, and how often? 

Every field office is different. No one site is the same in terms of turnaround times. In following up, we recommend the individual write multiple requests to ICE asking (1) Did ICE receive my parole request? and (2) If my request was received, is anything pending or has a decision been made? The ICE officer on duty should send your questions to your Deportation Officer. 

How can you successfully show rehabilitation of criminal history, especially if extensive? 

If a person was arrested, identify rehab programs in the area where they would be living with their sponsor and have the detained individual write an affidavit stating they commit to completing the rehab program once released. Unfortunately, if there are criminal cases pending and the individual is under ICE custody, there is not much that can be done. If an individual’s criminal history is extensive, we encourage their family members and friends to write letters of support showing that the detained individual has addressed these issues. 

You can also show a “plan.” 

  • For example: If the person was arrested for driving without a license, a plan could outline who is going to drive the person to ICE obligations and/or immigration court. The plan could also show public transportation in the sponsor’s area. 

If the faith community is helping support the individual’s sponsor with finances and logistics, is there value in having a large number of additional support letters? What max would you recommend? 

If the faith community has no relationship to the person, there might be a bit of a diminishing return on 20 or so letters. We encourage faith communities that are not personally acquainted with the individual to make the time to get personally acquainted. Faith communities should plan to have a few calls to talk to the person in detention and better understand their situation and what they would need upon release. There really is no “magic” number as to how many letters you should submit. ICE is looking for substantial ties between the individual and the community.

  • It’s important that letters are not all alike. If the letters are essentially the same, this could be viewed negatively if it looks like people simply signed on to a template letter without believing what they were signing.

Does prior removal order/mandatory detention bar humanitarian parole? How could you potentially appeal that? 

An individual with a prior removal order is still eligible to be released on humanitarian parole. However, eligibility for release does not mean that someone will be released. 

  • Unfortunately, if an individual is subject to mandatory detention, they will most likely remain detained. The Fraihat vs. ICE litigation also applies to people who are subject to mandatory detention. Fraihat has allowed situations where an attorney has asked for a custody redetermination on the individual’s case even though they are subject to mandatory detention. We have not heard of cases where someone has been released while being subject to mandatory detention. However, if you are an attorney, you can ask ICE to, in the alternative, conduct a custody redetermination for the individual to be released under Fraihat. We have seen at least one person at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia who was released even with a prior removal order.      

Should the parole packet be submitted all together at once with the detained individual’s documents and sponsor’s documents together, or can they be mailed separately? 

They can be mailed separately; however, we strongly recommend sending them all at once. For credibility, you want to submit the best documents that you have, submit them all at once, and be as consistent as possible in your submission.  

  • If new documents are received after submitting your application, they can be sent in to supplement the application. However, we highly encourage you to wait until you have all of your documents to send at once. This will give your application the best chance.  

How old can the sponsor letter be?  

There is no exact time frame for how old your sponsor letter can be. To give your application the best chance, we recommend your letter not be older than one to two months. Make sure the letter includes the address and contact information of the sponsor. 

  • There are additional requirements to establish the identity of the person who is detained. These requirements can be found on the parole advisal and the scheduling notification. We recommend including this identifying information in the letters.   

How does a detained person obtain a record of no criminal history from their country of origin? 

This is typically done by a friend or family member from the outside. A simple letter from local law enforcement or the police department stating the individual has no criminal record will suffice in most cases. 

Any strategies for what to do when the detention center refuses to give medical records to detained individuals? 

Email the Deportation Officer directly. At this link,  you will find the information for each ICE Field Office. You can find the email address here and your request will then be forwarded to the assigned Deportation Officer.

Is there any advantage to having the request submitted by a lawyer rather than by the detained person Pro Se (or vice versa)? 

There is no concrete evidence indicating an advantage to either option. There can be some of an advantage to having the expertise of an attorney or legal service agent because they can help create a more structured and coherent parole packet. For example, in Louisiana, individuals will have a harder time when requesting medical records without an attorney.  

  • The standard should be the same. If a person has an attorney for their entire case, the chances that the person is deemed a flight risk is less, so this may increase the likelihood of release on parole. 

Must sponsor and parolee reside physically at the same address, or could it be an address owned by a sponsor, for example, a separate apartment? 

When ICE reviews their checklist they will ask where the individual will reside if released. The important thing is for the sponsor to state where the individual will reside as their immigration case will be transferred to that jurisdiction and the ICE appointments will be at the nearest ICE Field Office. They don’t necessarily need to live in the same address.  

The important thing is that the sponsor states they will be responsible for housing the individual and ensuring the person attends their immigration appointments. If you do change address, make sure to complete the Change of Address Form and send a copy to ICE and to the immigration court. 

  • This does not happen often. If your application is denied, continue to resubmit your application with more or new evidence. This also depends on the Field Office. Sometimes the DO will call the sponsor to confirm some of the information.  

Is there a fee to follow requests? 

  • No, there is no fee. 

How do you find out who someone’s Deportation Officer is?

At this link, you will find the information for each ICE Field Office. You can find the email address there and your request will be forwarded to the assigned Deportation Officer (DO).   

  • DO assignments may vary by office structure. In some locations, ICE will have a parole unit. In other offices, there may be one officer assigned to the entire case.  

What's the interplay of bond and parole? Can you show the judge your parole application? Does denial of bond bar parole? 

Bond requests are usually made to the immigration judge (IJ), even though ICE also has the discretion to release someone on bond.  

Parole requests are sent directly to ICE. Presumably, if you have all the required documents that would make a strong parole application, these same documents may be used when asking the judge for release on bond. Remember that the individual may or may not be eligible for bond depending on their manner of entry or if they have overstayed a Visa. If someone was charged or designated as an “arriving alien,” they would not be eligible for release on bond by the IJ. 

How does ICE evaluate requests? 

You can view the checklist here.  

Would a spouse with approved asylum status (pending Lawful Permanent Resident approval) be an appropriate sponsor? 

Technically, anyone can serve as a sponsor for purposes of parole requests. However, ICE prefers sponsors who are US citizens or lawful permanent residents, or at least someone with a work permit.  

  • What is key is that if the sponsor does not have status, it is a risk to tell ICE where the person lives, what the person does, etc. This is important to keep in mind.
  • If someone has a pending adjustment of status, also keep in mind the requirements of who is serving as that person’s sponsor (if applicable).  

What do I do with a pending parole request when there are pre-existing medical conditions and the request has not been responded to after several weeks? 

Try sending the parole request via email directly to the ERO Field Office responsible for the detained individual. Try calling the field office and see if you’re able to obtain the email for the assigned Deportation Officer (DO) or the Supervisory Detention and Deportation Officer (SDDO). Contact information for ERO Field Offices can be found here.  

Contact the facility where the individual is detained, and see if you can get through to the ICE officers at the facility. They may be able to provide the DO’s and/or SDDO’s information; ask for email addresses, numbers for direct lines, and fax numbers.  

Encourage the detained individual to regularly (for example, weekly) send requests to ICE asking about the status of their parole request.  

Prior to contacting headquarters, ICE says to first try to resolve your request or concern at the field level, which may be done using the ERO Contact Form. If you need further assistance after contacting the field, you may contact ERO via email at ERO.INFO@ice.dhs.gov or by calling the ICE Detention and Reporting and Information Line (1-888-351-4024).  

What if I am unable to find anyone who has legal status to help as a sponsor? 

The most important thing for ICE is for the detained individual to have a fixed address where they will reside. You may also find a community-based service provider (like a shelter) and ask them to provide a letter explaining the detained individual is able to reside with them.   

If there is no one else able to provide a letter of support, and someone without legal status wants to provide a letter, that individual should be very careful in disclosing sensitive information. For example, an undocumented individual may NOT want to provide a copy of their ID or disclose where they live or their passport number. This information could be used against them. In order to provide legitimacy to a letter, this person may want to instead get their letter notarized (where the public notary checks their identification).  

Below are some resources that provide more information for detained individuals about Pro Se humanitarian parole.