ICE Immigration Detainers

What is an immigration detainer?

An immigration detainer is a request to a law enforcement agency to hold an individual or to arrange a time for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to assume custody of the individual. ICE has broad authority to issue detainers to other law enforcement agencies.

How long does an immigration detainer last?

Detainers authorize a law enforcement agency, such as a state or local agency, to prolong custody by up to 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays. The policy of excluding weekends and holidays often means that an immigrant will have to spend a weekend in jail. For instance, if bond for a criminal case is paid in Johnson County, Kansas on a Thursday afternoon, the detained individual might have to remain in State custody until Monday afternoon if ICE does not take custody of the person earlier.

Why is an immigration detainer issued? 

If ICE wants to issue a detainer for an individual, that person must already be in the custody of other authorities. In December of 2012, ICE issued a memorandum regarding the use of detainers. The memorandum listed the types of cases in which detainers should be used, cases involving such things as: felony offenses or prior felony convictions; three or more prior misdemeanors; certain more serious misdemeanor charges or convictions, e.g. driving under the influence, sexual abuse, or other violence; findings of immigration fraud; and where there exists a risk to national security, border security, or public safety.