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ICE Detention Standards

Each detention facility with an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contract must comply with one of several national detention standards: National Detention Standards (NDS), Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS), PBNDS 2011 (revised 2016), NDS 2019, and Family Residential Standards 2020.

National Detention Standards (NDS)

When ICE was formed in 2003, the agency operated its detention system under a set of National Detention Standards (NDS), which were based upon the policies and procedures that existed at the time of the issuance of these standards in September 2000. NDS established consistent conditions of confinement, program operations and management expectations within the agency's detention network.

Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS)

The 2008 Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS), developed in coordination with agency stakeholders, prescribe both the expected outcomes of each detention standard and the expected practices required to achieve them. The PBNDS 2008 update was designed to improve safety, security, and conditions of confinement for detained noncitizens.

PBNDS 2011

ICE further revised its detention standards in 2011. The 2011 standards reflect ICE's ongoing effort to tailor the conditions of immigration detention to its unique purpose while maintaining a safe and secure detention environment for staff and detained noncitizens. Incorporating the input of many agency employees and stakeholders, including the perspectives of nongovernmental organizations and ICE field offices, the PBNDS 2011 was crafted to improve medical and mental health services, increase access to legal services and religious opportunities, improve communication with detained noncitizens with limited English proficiency, improve the process for reporting and responding to complaints, and increase recreation and visitation.

NDS 2019

In 2019, ICE issued NDS 2019. These detention standards apply to ICE’s IGSA facilities which were formerly operating under the 2000 NDS, USMS facilities used by ICE and which ICE inspects against the NDS, as well as facilities (both IGSA and USMS) which do not reach the threshold for ICE annual inspections – generally those with an average daily population (ADP) of less than 10. Based on ICE’s experience with its state and local law enforcement partners, and the understanding that local practice appropriately covers many requirements that were explicitly enumerated in NDS, NDS 2019 streamlines several prior standards and incorporates substantive additions addressing topics such as medical care, segregation, disability access, sexual assault and abuse prevention and intervention, and language access.

Family Residential Standards

In 2007, ICE issued the Family Residential Standards (FRS), which guide the care and custody of non-violent, non-criminal noncitizen families housed in ICE Residential Centers pending the outcome of their immigration proceedings. The standards were developed with input from medical, psychological, and educational subject matter experts and various organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and many non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The standards address issues specifically related to housing these vulnerable populations, ensuring best practices for educational and recreational access, as well as stringent standards which take into consideration the specific developmental and behavioral nature of children.

In 2020, ICE revised the Family Residential Standards (FRS) after several years of operations and data collection through a rigorous monthly and semiannual inspection program. The revisions represent a synthesis of past and current best practices at the Family Staging Centers (FSCs), focus on improving the standards to more effectively manage a residential program, and implement improvements to the standards that directly addressed feedback received from private sector agencies and NGOs.