In recent years, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has detained and deported record numbers of people from the United States. Many ICE tactics threaten basic constitutional protections. Know your rights when facing an ICE detainer.

Many of ICE’s removal tactics take away even the right to a fair hearing in court as the government rushes to judgment and tries to force people through a rubber-stamp system that ignores their individual circumstances.  

These enforcement programs pose a variety of threats to civil liberties:

  • the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures 
  • the constitutional guarantee of due process 
  • the constitutional guarantee of equal protection 
  • freedom from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and national origin 

ICE’s enforcement practices also impose heavy social costs, tearing American families apart and undermining community trust in law enforcement.

Open the menus below to learn more about your rights when facing an ICE detainer in Maine.

What is an ICE detainer?

ICE detainers are also called an “immigration hold,” “ICE hold,” “detainer request,” or “immigration detainer."

An ICE detainer is a written request sent from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to a local jail or other law enforcement agency. The request asks the jail or agency to hold a person for up to 48 hours after they would otherwise be released (because, for example, charges were dropped or a person paid bail). By detaining a person longer than otherwise allowed, ICE agents have extra time to decide whether to take the person into federal custody for removal purposes.

Is an ICE detainer the same as a warrant?

No. ICE detainers are not the same as a judicial warrant.

Judicial warrants are signed by judges and require law enforcement to show they have probable cause to arrest someone. ICE detainers are signed by ICE agents and do not require any probable cause. Unlike a judicial warrant, an ICE detainer does not meet the Fourth Amendment’s requirements for reasonable searches, seizures, and warrants, and ICE detainers do not justify detaining a person and depriving them of their liberty.

What happens if ICE does not pick up the person within 48 hours?

You cannot be detained on an ICE detainer if ICE does not take custody of you within 48 hours.

If the detained person is otherwise eligible for release (for example, they’ve posted bail), the individual must be released unless a federal ICE agent comes to physically take custody of them within 48 hours. An individual cannot be “rolled over” from state to federal custody without a federal agent taking physical custody.

What should I do if I am subject to an ICE detainer?

You should inform your attorney when subjected to an ICE detainer.

If you are in jail, tell your immigration attorney and criminal defense attorney that you are being held on an ICE detainer. You should also contact the Immigration Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP):