Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) received data on every immigration detainer issued from 2007 through September 2010. The data, received through a Freedom of Information request, provides useful information on the police encounters that led to individuals’ arrests and the number of detainers U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued to each local law enforcement agency. Click here for more background and resources regarding immigration detainers.
What are immigration detainers?
When local police arrest an individual that ICE believes may be deportable, it often will issue an immigration detainer, or hold, which instructs local police that it must hold the individual for an additional 48 hours or longer, so that ICE may assume physical custody of the individual. ICE does not provide any compensation for the additional time in local custody. Through programs like Secure Communities, ICE has dramatically increased its interior immigration enforcement by co-opting state and local law enforcements’ criminal investigations and arrests through the use of detainers.
Why are detainers harmful?
In recent years, communities have begun to realize that their cooperation on federal immigration enforcement is draining limited law enforcement, while impeding police’s ability to keep their communities safe. Two recent studies conducted in Travis County, Texas and New York City have found that individuals with immigration detainers lodged against them on average spend an additional 43 to 72 days, respectively, in pre-trial custody with little to no compensation from the federal government. In the process, ICE has cast its nets wide to ensnare mostly noncriminals or very minor offenders, making every local police encounter an immigration enforcement opportunity. Immigrant communities responded in fear by not coming forward to cooperate with police when they are victims and witnesses to crime .
How this data can help your community respond
A number of communities around the country have taken action to strike a better balance between criminal law enforcement and ICE’s indiscriminate immigration enforcement. Cook County, Illinois, and Santa Clara County, California, are among more than a dozen communities that have recently passed local ordinances declining to honor immigration detainers unless ICE reimburses them for the costs associated with the additional detention. Cook County and Santa Clara have galvanized advocates across the country to duplicate those efforts in their own communities. Click here for a full list of community detainer policies with links.
The data available here is valuable for communities attempting to estimate the expenses local law enforcement incur to fulfill the federal government’s immigration enforcement objectives. Immigration advocates have already used the data to push Los Angeles to adopt its own immigration detainer policy.
For more information regarding this data, or to tell us how you are using it in your community, please contact NIJC's National Litigation Coordinator Mark Fleming.
2007 (8.5 MB)
2008 (21.5 MB)
2009 (28.5 MB)
2010 (19 MB)
Note: Alien File Numbers (A-numbers) were withheld by ICE