Immigration Detainers

An ICE detainer (also known as the "immigration hold") is one of the ways that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials apprehends individuals who come into contact with local and state law enforcement agencies.

The immigration detainer is a written document that requests that a local jail or law enforcement agency detain a person for an additional 48 hours after they would normally be released from custody. Often called the "ICE hold," the immigration detainer gives ICE agents extra time to decide whether to take a person into federal custody for a removal proceeding.

Most immigration detainers are issued by an authorized immigration official or local police officer designated to act as an immigration official under Section 287(g) of the  Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 

A detainer is different than a Notice to Appear (NTA) that indicates the beginning of a removal proceeding in immigration court.

Attorney for Immigration Detainers in Texas

Luis Hess, an immigration attorney in The Woodlands, TX, represents clients held by detainers issued by ICE (often called the "ICE hold"), including those which involve a law enforcement agency maintaining custody over a suspected removable alien. In many of these cases, we can help our client secure their release from custody.

From offices in Shenandoah, Texas, just south of Conroe and north of Houston, Luis F. Hess, PLLC represents clients throughout Montgomery County and Harris County, TX. He also represents clients throughout the immigration courts in Houston, TX, and the surrounding areas.

Call (281) 205-8540 today.


Procedures for Detention Detainers

In these cases, after an arrest, even after you post bail, instead of being released, you might be held in custody under an immigration detainer issued by federal immigration officials.

No provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), 8 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq., authorize federal officials to command local or state officials to detain suspected aliens subject to removal. Many local officials, however, have a policy of contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) whenever persons arrested are suspected of being “aliens subject to deportation.”

In many of these cases, an ICE Agent will file an immigration detainer that describes the person being held as a suspected “alien” and citizen of a foreign country. The detainer often reads:

An investigation has been initiated to determine whether this person is subject to removal/deportation from the United States.... It is requested that you: Please accept this notice as a detainer. This is for notification purposes only.... Federal regulations (8 CFR 287.7) require that you detain the alien for a period not to exceed 48 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and Federal holidays) to provide adequate time for ICE to assume custody of the alien.

Many of these detainers involve a warrant, an affidavit of probable cause, or a removal order. During these detentions, ICE officers might come to question you about your immigration status.


Additional Resources

Sheriff Ends ICE program for Immigration Detainers in the Houston Jail - Read an article in the Houston Chronicle that explains why Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez ended a controversial partnership with federal immigration authorities that trained deputies to determine the immigration status of jailed suspects that could be held for deportation. The ICE program is known as “287(g).” Even after the program ended, ICE officials are still permitted to come to the jail and screen jail inmates to determine their immigration status and hold them for removal proceedings in the immigration courts in Houston.


This article was last updated on Friday, January 26, 2018.

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