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 extra time to decide whether to take the individual into federal custody for removal purposes.

ICE’s use of detainers to imprison people without due process and, in many cases, without any charges pending or probable cause of any violation has raised serious constitutional concerns. In November 2014, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged “the increasing number of federal court decisions that hold that detainer-based detention by state and local law enforcement agencies violates the Fourth Amendment.” The secretary directed ICE to limit its use of detainers going forward, but serious questions remain about whether and how ICE’s practices will change on the ground.


July 2015:
Recent ICE Detainer Cases

June 2015:
ACLU and coalition partners' letter to DHS regarding implementation of Priority Enforcement Program

December 2014:

ACLU Backgrounder on Discontinued Secure Communities Program, Detainer Reforms, and New Priority Enforcement Program 


April 2014:
ACLU Administrative Recommendations on ICE Detainers

November 2013:
Restoring Trust: How Immigration Detainers in Maryland Undermine Public Safety Through Unnecessary Enforcement (ACLU of Maryland)

March 2013:
Testimony Submitted by the ACLU of Pennsylvania Regarding ICE Detainers

October 2012:
What ICE Isn't Telling You About Detainers: A Fact Sheet for Local Law Enforcement Agencies

July 2012:
Statement for Congressional Hearing on "Building a Secure Community: How Can DHS Better Leverage State and Local Parternships?

November 2011:
Statement for Congressional Hearing on "Is Secure Communities Keeping Our Communities Secure? 



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