ICE Detainers | Immigration Attorney | Eatontown New Jersey

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What’s the problem with ICE’s Detainers?

In just the past two years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has issued over 400,000 detainer requests for local law enforcement to hold people in jail, without a warrant or the guarantee of a prompt hearing. Many of these individuals are not a threat to the community and have never been convicted of a crime. Some are even U.S. citizens. Despite this, states, counties, and cities spend millions of their own tax dollars complying with ICE’s requests.  These hold requests are referred to as civil immigration detainers. From 2007 to 2012 the number of detainers went from less than 15,000 to over 250,000. Programs like detainers, secured communities, and the criminal alien program are some of the least accountable aspects of the immigration enforcement system.

What is a detainer?

A detainer is an ICE form that requests state or local police to hold someone in jail for 48 hours (exclusive of weekends/holidays), after they would otherwise be released from police custody. An ICE detainer can result even if the person is never charged or convicted of a crime. Often, detainers are placed after fingerprints taken and are automatically shared with ICE through the Secure Communities program.

What constitutional concerns do Detainers raise?

  • Police often hold people longer–sometimes months longer–than 48 hours, and judges often deny bail because of a detainer, so detainers can lead to extensive jail time.
  • Detainers do not require an established standard of proof for detainers, like probable cause.  ICE has mistakenly detained lawful permanent residents (not deportable) and U.S. citizens.
  • Police are not required to provide a copy of the detainer to the detainee.

How do Detainers undermine the safety of the community?

  • Immigrants are less likely to call the police if they became a crime victim.  Any group of people who are afraid to talk to the police will compromise law enforcement’s ability to keep a community safe.
  • Communities have fewer dollars to focus on safety because of the cost of complying with ICE’s requests.  ICE does not reimburse communities localities for the full costs of complying with detainers.

Shouldn’t detainers only target public safety threats?

  • Individuals who pose no public safety threat are often held on detainers. Nationwide, one study found that half of detainers ICE issued in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 and FY2013 were placed on individuals without a single criminal conviction.
  • ICE’s December 2012 policy guidance  does not reflect either the agency’s civil enforcement priorities or its prosecutorial discretion policies to target public safety threats or those with criminal convictions. Even juveniles are issued detainers.

What can communities do?

  • Pass local resolutions or ordinances limiting law enforcement cooperation with ICE detainers. Over 25 cities, counties and states have already passed resolutions doing just that. Our very own Newark no longer honors these requests.
  • Detainers are requests, not federal mandates, so localities and law enforcement agencies can choose to not engage in this type of civil immigration enforcement.

If you have questions about ICE’s detainers or any New Jersey immigration related question, call 888-695-6169 to speak to our knoweldgeable staff today.

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