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Detainers

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issues detainers and requests for notification to law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to provide notice of its intent to assume custody of an individual detained in federal, state, or local custody. Detainers are placed on aliens arrested on criminal charges for whom ICE possesses probable cause to believe that they are removable from the United States.

A detainer requests that a LEA notify ICE as early as practicable – ideally at least 48 hours – before a removable alien is released from criminal custody and then briefly maintain custody of the alien for up to 48 hours to allow DHS to assume custody for removal purposes. A request for notification requests that a LEA notify ICE as early as practicable – ideally at least 48 hours – before a removable alien is released from criminal custody.

These requests are intended to allow a reasonable amount of time for ICE to respond and take custody of the alien. When LEAs fail to honor immigration detainers or requests for notification and release removable aliens, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission.

ICE continues to collaborate with all law enforcement agencies to help ensure that aliens who may pose a threat to our communities are not released onto the streets to potentially reoffend and harm individuals living within our communities. However, in some cases, state or local laws, ordinances or policies restrict or prohibit cooperation with ICE. In other cases, jurisdictions choose to willfully decline ICE detainers or requests for notification and release removable aliens back into the community.

When criminal aliens are released from local or state custody, they have the opportunity to reoffend. ICE is then required to expend extensive resources to mitigate potential risks and make arrests in a community setting. Oftentimes, ICE is unable to locate a released alien before the alien commits a new crime. It can be safer for all involved – the community, law enforcement, and the criminal alien – if ICE officers take custody in the controlled environment of another law enforcement agency.

What is a detainer?

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issues detainers to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to provide notice of its intent to assume custody of a removable alien detained in federal, state, or local custody. A detainer requests that the law enforcement agency notify ICE as early as practicable – ideally at least 48 hours – before a removable alien is released from criminal custody and briefly maintain custody of the alien for up to 48 hours to allow DHS to assume custody for removal purposes.

What is a declined detainer?

When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release a criminal alien onto the streets, they have declined an ICE detainer. This undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission. Federal immigration laws authorize DHS to issue detainers and provide ICE broad authority to detain removable aliens.

How is an individual placed under a detainer?

When an individual is booked into custody by a law enforcement agency, his or her biometric data is automatically routed through federal databases to the FBI. The FBI shares this information with ICE. If ICE has probable cause to suspect the individual is a removable alien, ICE sends a detainer to the law enforcement agency.

Why do some jurisdictions ignore detainers?

In some cases, state or local laws, ordinances, or policies restrict or prohibit cooperation with ICE. In other cases, jurisdictions choose to willfully decline ICE detainers and release removable aliens back into the community. The results in both cases are the same: aliens released onto the streets to potentially reoffend or harm individuals living within our communities.

Why should the public care if jurisdictions don’t observe ICE detainers?

If jurisdictions do not honor ICE detainers, it becomes more difficult for ICE to carry out its mission. This results in criminals being released into communities, where they can commit more crimes and are subject to at-large arrests which may be disruptive to communities.

Does ICE still work with jurisdictions that do not observe detainers?

Yes. ICE is committed to maintaining and strengthening its relationships with local law enforcement. ICE continues to collaborate with all law enforcement agencies to help ensure that individuals who may pose a threat to our communities are not released onto the streets to potentially reoffend and harm individuals living within our communities.

Why is the public safer when jurisdictions honor ICE detainers?

When criminal aliens are released from local or state custody, they have the opportunity to reoffend. ICE is required to expend extensive resources to mitigate potential risks and make arrests in a community setting. Oftentimes, ICE is unable to locate a released alien before the alien can commit a new crime. It can be safer for all involved – the community, law enforcement, and the criminal alien – if ICE officers take custody in the controlled environment of another law enforcement agency.

What is ICE’s overall mission? Why do they want the detainers enforced?

ICE is committed to using its unique enforcement authorities and available resources and tools to promote national security, uphold public safety, and preserve the integrity of our immigration system. The use of detainers is an efficient, effective and safe means to carry out ICE’s mission.

Are detainers placed on random criminal aliens?

ICE places detainers on individuals whom ICE has probable cause to suspect are removable aliens in state and local law enforcement agency custody on criminal charges.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 01/29/2019