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Language Access Information and Resources

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) is committed to providing meaningful access to programs and services for limited English proficient noncitizens. This resource page was developed to promote awareness regarding some available language access resources.

Language Assistance
Through bilingual staff and language line contracts, ICE ERO personnel communicate with limited English proficient noncitizens in more than 200 languages, including rare and indigenous languages.

Improving Language Access
ICE ERO regularly provides job aids and best practices materials to help personnel identify limited English proficient noncitizens and their preferred language, as well as secure necessary interpretation and translation services.

Translation of Vital Documents 
ICE ERO continues to ensure vital documents provided in English, including forms signed by a detained noncitizen, are translated into Spanish and other languages.

Language Access Authority and Responsibility

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended (42 USC § 2000d), prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating based on national origin. Language is an aspect of national origin and therefore the agency takes reasonable steps to make their programs, services, and activities accessible by eligible persons with limited English proficiency. To ensure nondiscrimination, meaningful access to programs and activities should be provided to persons regardless of their ability to speak and understand English.

Executive Order 13166

The federal government adheres to the principles of nondiscrimination and inclusion embodied in Title VI. An Executive Order is an order given by the President to federal agencies. On August 11, 2000, the President signed Executive Order 13166, "Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency." The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to those who are limited English proficient (LEP), and develop and implement a system to provide those services so LEP persons can have meaningful access to them. Under the Executive Order, each federal agency must develop a plan for providing that access.

Private Entities Contracting with a Federal Agency

When an outside entity conducts certain activities for a federal agency, then Executive Order 13166 applies to that entity's activities. The agency should ensure that the entity knows the general standards for language access and applies the agency's plan to the activities it is conducting on behalf of the agency.

ICE Language Access Plan (2015)

ICE's Language Access Plan (LAP) supports Executive Order 13166. The purpose of this guidance is to ensure that LEP noncitizens are afforded meaningful access to ICE programs.

ICE Supplemental Language Access Plan (2020)

The ICE Supplemental Update provides ICE with continued guidance regarding language access compliance, reports our progress in accomplishing the goals set in the initial plan, and details ongoing activities and plans for future improvements.

ICE ERO Language Access

ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) identifies, arrests, detains, and removes noncitizens who present a danger to national security, are a risk to public safety, enter the United States illegally, or otherwise undermine the integrity of the U.S. immigration laws and border control efforts. In carrying out this important mission, it is vital for ICE ERO to communicate effectively with a broad-spectrum of noncitizens, including those who have limited English proficiency. ICE ERO is committed to ensuring that external LEP stakeholders (including members of the public seeking access to programs, and noncitizens who are subject to ICE enforcement actions and/or are in ICE custody) have meaningful access to its programs, services, and activities by providing quality language assistance services in a timely manner. This includes identifying and translating vital documents into the most frequently encountered languages, providing interpretive services where appropriate, and educating personnel about language access responsibilities and how to utilize available resources. When conducting its business and strategic planning, ICE ERO considers means of enhancing its language access services that do not also unduly burden the Agency mission.

ICE National Detention Standards

Throughout the various ICE National Detention Standards under which detention facilities and family staging centers operate are the requirements that information be provided to LEP noncitizens in a language or manner they can understand throughout the detention process. The ICE National Detention Standards are the 2000 and 2019 National Detention Standards (NDS), 2008 and 2011 (including 2016 revisions) Performance Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS), and 2008 Family Residential Standards.

Limited English Proficient Individuals

Limited English Proficient Individuals

Individuals who do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English can be limited English proficient (LEP). LEP individuals may be competent in English for certain types of communication (e.g. speaking or understanding), but still be LEP for other purposes (e.g. reading or writing). These individuals may be entitled to language assistance with respect to federal agency programs, services, benefits, or encounters.

Job Aids Used to Identify LEP Noncitizens

At the point of first contact with a noncitizen, ICE ERO personnel make reasonable efforts to determine whether the noncitizen is LEP and needs language assistance services, and to obtain such services. To that end. ICE ERO develops job aids to assist personnel in better identifying LEP noncitizens and their preferred language. This includes a flyer on the Protocol for Identifying LEP Persons and Providing Language Services. ICE ERO also utilizes existing tools created by other agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties’ I Speak and I Speak Indigenous (Habla) Language Identification Posters. Both posters are designed for use in public areas such as waiting rooms, disaster recovery centers, or immigration detention facilities. Such aids serve to supplement any steps ICE ERO takes to notify LEP noncitizens that they should be provided language assistance, free of charge, when communicating with ICE ERO and facility personnel (see additional information on notice to noncitizens of language assistance in the Language Assistance and Services section below).

Language Assistance and Services

Types of Language Assistance

There are two primary types of language assistance services, oral and written. Interpretation involves immediate oral communication of meaning from one language into another, whereas translation involves written communication, transferring text from one language into another.

Available Language Services

ICE ERO personnel communicate with LEP noncitizens through in person or over-the-phone interpretation and translation. To do so, ICE ERO personnel who have a level of proficiency in one or more languages other than English, are utilized at the level of importance and complexity of the employee’s foreign language skills. ICE ERO personnel also have access to professional over-the-phone interpretation through contracts with language line vendors, covering more than 200 languages including rare and indigenous languages. ICE ERO also uses these professional services to translate vital documents into Spanish and other languages spoken by significant segments of the population encountered (as applicable), including forms requiring a detained noncitizen’s signature.

Notice to Noncitizens of Language Assistance

ICE ERO strives to notify LEP noncitizens that they should be provided language assistance, free of charge, when communicating with ICE ERO and facility personnel. For example, ICE ERO created a Noncitizen Notice of Language Services flyer containing such a statement in multiple languages, to be posted in view of noncitizens in high traffic areas, including intake, medical, and housing units. ICE ERO also recently added a language access section in the newly issued ICE National Detainee Handbook, which has been translated into 13 languages other than English. The Handbook, issued to every noncitizen in immigration detention, provides an overview of the programs and services available while these noncitizens are residing in an ICE-approved facility, including information on available language assistance. It also provides an overview of the general rules, regulations, policies, and procedures that detained noncitizens are required to follow while in ICE custody. If the Handbook or other materials are not translated into a language spoken by the LEP individual, then oral interpretation of the information must be provided.

Contact Information & Additional Resources

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO)

ICE Office of Diversity and Civil Rights (ODCR)

The ICE Office of Diversity and Civil Rights’ mission is to ensure employees, applicants for employment and all stakeholders are treated in a non-discriminatory manner in compliance with established laws, regulations, and Executive Orders. The agency must promote a culturally diverse workforce, create a work environment that allows all employees equal opportunity to achieve their full potential, and incorporate ODCR’s principles into the ICE mission and value system. To that end, ODCR directs and integrates the application of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, as well as other applicable non-discrimination complaint systems and affirmative employment programs. For additional information please contact us at ICECivilLiberties@ice.dhs.gov.

Detention Reporting and Information Line (DRIL)

The DRIL is a toll-free service that provides a direct channel for external stakeholders to communicate with ERO to answer questions and resolve concerns. Stakeholders may reach the DRIL by dialing 1-888-351-4024. Live operators are available Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST). Language assistance, including Spanish speaking operators, is also available. Detainees are also able to call the DRIL from facility phones using the DTS free call platform.

Department of Homeland Security Language Access Plans

To learn more about language access at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), visit the DHS Language Access web page.

Updated: 03/08/2022