U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) is committed to providing language translation and interpreter services to all noncitizens in agency custody — regardless of country of citizenship or language.
Title VI - Civil Rights Act of 1964
The U.S. government prioritizes meaningful language access services and programs. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended (42 U.S.C. Section 2000d) prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating based on national origin.
Language is an aspect of national origin. 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 or understand English.
Executive Order 13166
ERO adheres to Executive Order 13166, Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency, signed on August 11, 2000 (EO 13166). 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 to develop and implement a system to provide those services. Under the Executive Order, each federal agency must develop a plan for providing that access.
Language Access Plan
On June 14, 2015, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued its Language Access Plan (LAP) to improve language access services for external stakeholders with limited English proficiency (LEP) in accordance with EO 13166. On August 15, 2018, DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) issued direction to the DHS components to prepare supplemental updates to their LAPs to include considering their Language Access Working Group, evaluation tools and mechanisms, demographic assessments, and new technologies. ICE issued its ICE Language Access Plan Supplemental Update Covering Fiscal Years 2019 and 2020 (ICE LAP Supplement) on July 21, 2020. The ICE LAP Supplement documents the work ICE has done to provide meaningful language access from the issuance of the ICE LAP to FY 2019 and provides an overview of how ICE will continue to provide meaningful language access services to its external stakeholders who are LEP. The Supplement requires that updates to the ICE LAP should be provided at two-year intervals.
ICE Detention Standards
ICE’s national detention standards govern the detention facilities throughout ICE’s network. The ICE detentions standards under which the facilities operate require that information be provided to LEP persons in a language or manner they can understand throughout the immigration process.
In accordance with ICE’s detentions standards, each facility provides communication assistance to detained noncitizens who are LEP, including bilingual staff or professional interpretation and translation services, to provide them with meaningful access to its programs and activities. All written materials provided to detained noncitizens are generally translated into Spanish and where practicable, the languages of other significant segments of the LEP population.
Oral interpretation or assistance is provided to any detained noncitizen who speaks another language in which written material has not been translated or who is illiterate.
Limited English Proficiency (LEP)
ERO provides accurate and effective communication with LEP stakeholders to ensure meaningful access to programs and activities. ICE notes not all forms are translated into every dialect spoken by detained noncitizens in ICE custody.
Through contracts with language assistance vendors, ICE ERO uses professional oral interpretation and translation services that cover more than 200 languages, including Indigenous languages. Additionally, many ERO staff have sufficient proficiency in one or more languages other than English and communicate with LEP persons in their primary language, when appropriate.
Additionally, ICE’s Language Access Program allows noncitizens access to language services by facilitating the translation of certain ERO forms at any phase of the immigration process, including forms used in ICE’s detention centers. If a form is unavailable in a noncitizen’s primary language, the noncitizen receives translation services for the explanation of the form via Lionbridge or other approved translation services.
ERO has access to an ICE-wide 24 hours a day, seven days a week language services contract for interpretation (oral), translation (written), and transcription (audio to documentation).
ERO regularly coordinates with its language line vendors to better ensure recruitment and availability of over-the-phone interpretation services to serve those in ICE custody who speak Indigenous languages.
ERO disseminated to field offices nationwide tools designed to help staff identify noncitizens who speak Indigenous languages. These include an ERO audio/visual PowerPoint, Intake Tool for Identifying Indigenous Languages, and an ISpeak Indigenous Language Identification flyer developed by the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
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.