An “ICE detainer”—or “immigration hold”—is one of the key tools U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses to apprehend individuals who come in contact with local and state law enforcement agencies and put them into the federal deportation system. An ICE detainer is a written request that a local jail or other law enforcement agency detain an individual for an additional 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) after his or her release date, in order to provide ICE agents time to decide whether to take the individual into federal custody and begin formal deportation proceedings.
ICE routinely issues immigration detainers to law enforcement agencies around the country as part of ICE’s various enforcement programs that rely on state and local police, such as the 287(g) program, Secure Communities, and the Criminal Alien Program. Detainers raise serious constitutional concerns by depriving individuals of freedom without due process of law and, in many cases, without probable cause of any violation. Moreover, state and local corrections officials frequently violate the 48-hour limitation by continuing to hold individuals beyond the period allowed by regulation. Detainers have resulted in the illegal imprisonment of countless individuals—including U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and Latinos in particular—without any charges pending, sometimes for days or weeks after they should have been released from custody.