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Detained Immigrants - Know Your Rights

Regardless of your immigration status, when it comes to immigration detention, you have constitutional rights. Among these rights are the right to remain silent, the right to ask what is happening and whom you are speaking to; the right not to reveal your personal information. Tens of thousands of would-be immigrants are imprisoned in America’s detention centers all across the U.S. Some cannot make bail while others are being held without bail.

In the majority of the cases, these prisoners have committed no crime. The only sin they are being charged with is the fact of being present in the U.S. unlawfully or having violated their temporary or permanent resident status. Often, their spouses and children are forced to live with relatives or to apply for welfare in order to support themselves while their loved ones remain locked up, waiting for their hearings before overworked Immigration Judges or for their appeals to be decided by either the Board of Immigration Appeals or the Federal Courts.

If we compare the legal protections of detained immigrants and the individual accused of a crime (whatever their legal status), we will come to the conclusion that detained immigrants have less legal protections than do individuals accused of a crime.  But even though, detained immigrants still have some rights. 


It is our wish that this information is of help in locating a family member who is in immigration detention and assists you in instructing them on how to assert their rights. Persons in state and local custody are advised to take advantage of the ICE Detainee Hotline at (855) 448-6903

ICE's Agument About Immigration Detention

“The duty of managing and overseeing the nation’s civil immigration detention system was entrusted by the U.S. Constitution to the ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). The ERO manages ICE detainees placed in ERO custody represent virtually every country in the world, various security classifications, both genders, and medical conditions ranging from healthy to terminally ill. 


Apprehended Non-U.S. citizens who are determined to need custodial supervision are placed in detention facilities. Those who are released from secure custody constitute ERO’s “non-detained” docket. Every case, whether “detained” or “non-detained,” remains part of ERO’s caseload and is actively managed until it is formally closed. ERO processes and monitors detained and non-detained cases as they move through immigration court proceedings to conclusions. At that point, ERO executes the judge’s order.

Through an aggressive inspections program, ICE ensures its facilities follow ICE’s National Detention Standards (NDS). ERO’s Detention Standards Compliance Unit ensures that detainees in ICE custody reside in safe, secure, and humane environments and under appropriate conditions of confinement.

The NDS was originally issued in September 2000 to facilitate consistent conditions of confinement, access to legal representation, and safe and secure operations across the detention system. The standards established consistency of program operations and management expectations, accountability for compliance, and a culture of professionalism.

ICE now uses Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS) that focus on results or outcomes. Each detention center must meet specified standards.

As part of the restructuring of the former INS, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 transferred the responsibilities related to the care and custody of unaccompanied alien children to the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement. To that end, ERO developed policy and procedures regarding the appropriate case management of unaccompanied alien children in Federal custody while they wait for immigration proceedings. ERO coordinates closely with DHS partners to ensure the timely and safe transfer of unaccompanied alien children to the Office of Refugee Resettlement in accordance with both the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008.”

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