Many foreigners who have committed crimes are often taken into custody. In recent years the laws have been toughened considerably regarding detention and the courts have also hardened in their views regarding the legitimacy of detaining foreigners who have completed their criminal sentences and paid their debts to society. Also, aliens who arrive in the United States without what the government considers proper documentation are taken into detention while the government decides whether to return them, allows them into the United States for later examination, or decides whether they have a credible fear of returning to their homelands. Those whom the government believes have such credible fear are often detained while the government determines if they are eligible and deserving of protections under the asylum/human rights provisions of the law through asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.
Release is often possible for detained foreigners. Those who have been released from criminal custody for many crimes after October 8, 1998, the government insists are subject to mandatory custody. The courts have decided that mandatory detention does not apply to permanent residents. The government may detain others based on a discretionary determination that they do not merit release because they are dangers to the community or flight risks. Aliens not caught at the border can ask for a bond hearing before an immigration judge to request bond or to have an excessively high bond lowered. The government can sometimes be persuaded to lower the amount of a bond it sets when evidence is brought to its attention.