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ERO: Detention Management

ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) manages and oversees the nation’s civil immigration detention system. 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.

Non-U.S. citizens who are apprehended and determined to need custodial supervision are placed in detention facilities. Those who are released from secure custody constitute ERO's "nondetained" 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 conclusion. 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 were 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.

Family Residential Centers maintain family unity as families go through immigration proceedings or await return to their home countries. ICE ensures that these residential centers operate in an open environment, including access to medical care, social workers, educational services, legal counsel and recreational opportunities. To improve meaningful access to services within the centers, a language services program provides indigenous language interpretation for residents in family residential centers.

To be eligible to stay at a residential center, the family cannot have a criminal history and must include a non-U.S. citizen child or children under the age of eighteen accompanied by his/her/their non-U.S. citizen parent(s) or legal guardian(s). With limited exceptions stays at residential centers are generally limited to 20 days.

Families are medically screened upon arrival by a licensed nursing staff that is on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The facilities provide ongoing medical, dental and mental health care as needed.

All school-aged children receive educational services by state certified teachers. The centers include communal activity rooms, social library, law library, televisions, recreation areas and toddler play areas. Residents have access to cafeterias with child-friendly and cultural food choices offered three times a day. Refrigerators in common areas are stocked with fresh fruit, milk, juice and water 24 hours a day. Families have access to an on-site commissary to purchase additional food, snacks and drinks.

Social and legal visitation opportunities are available to residents seven days a week.

ICE headquarters has a designated unit that oversees compliance with Family Residential Standards and manages an independent compliance inspection program through a contracted team of juvenile subject matter experts.

ICE’s three Family Residential Centers (FRC) include:

As detailed in the June 2017 DHS Inspector General’s report, the family residential centers are “clean, well-organized, and efficiently run” and the agency was found to be “addressing the inherent challenges of providing medical care and language services and ensuring the safety of families in detention.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) manages and oversees the nation's civil immigration detention system, detaining individuals in furtherance of their removal proceedings or to effect their departure from the United States after a final order of removal from a federal immigration judge. ICE detainees are housed in a variety of facilities across the United States, including but not limited to ICE-owned-and-operated facilities; local, county or state facilities contracted through Intergovernmental Service Agreements, and contractor-owned-and-operated facilities.

ICE is committed to ensuring that those in our custody reside in safe, secure and humane environments and under appropriate conditions of confinement. ICE makes custody determinations on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with United States law and Department of Homeland Security policy, considering the merits and factors of each case while adhering to current agency priorities, guidelines and legal mandates. In making such determinations, ERO officers weigh a variety of factors, including the person's criminal record, immigration history, ties to the community, risk of flight, and whether he or she poses a potential threat to public safety.

Congressional requirements described in the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill (2020) require ICE to make the following data publicly accessible.

ICE provides the following detention, Alternatives to Detention and facility information below. The data tables are searchable and sortable, and worksheets are protected to ensure their accuracy and reliability. ICE confirms the integrity of the data as published on this site, but cannot attest to subsequent transmissions. Data fluctuate until "locked" at the conclusion of the fiscal year.

Alternatives to Detention Program

ICE’s ATD program is a flight-mitigation tool that uses technology and case management to increase aliens’ compliance with release conditions while they are on the non-detained docket. It is not a substitute for detention, but allows ICE to exercise increased supervision over a portion of those who are not detained.

The Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program began in 2004 through the agency’s Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP) I contract. Currently, ATD -ISAP III utilizes modern technology and case management with the goal of more closely monitoring a small segment of cases assigned to the non-detained docket. As of  August 2020, there are over 3.3 million individuals assigned to the non-detained docket, many with pending cases before the immigration courts. Of these, ICE has resources to monitor approximately 5 percent of the total non-detained population, or approximately 100,000 aliens.  

There are varying degrees of supervision and monitoring options available in the ATD -ISAP III program. On a case by case basis, local ICE ERO Deportation Officers determine the type and manner of monitoring that is appropriate for each participant, including the specific type of technology – global positioning system (GPS) tracking devices, telephonic reporting (TR), or a smartphone application (SmartLINK) – and case management levels, which include frequency of office or home visits. ICE may adjust the level of supervision required as the level of compliance either increases or decreases. There are several factors considered when reviewing a case to determine if they will be enrolled in the ATD program. Some examples are an individual’s criminal and immigration history; supervision history; family and/or community ties; status as a caregiver or provider; and other humanitarian or medical considerations.

Additionally, as instructed by Congress, ICE recently incorporated many of the Family Case Management Program (FCMP) principles into its traditional ATD program. These principles were incorporated into the current ATD ISAP III through a contract modification and are known as Extended Case Management Services (ECMS). These same services are available through the ECMS modification as they were available under FCMP with two distinct differences: ECMS is available in a higher number of locations and available at a fraction of the cost. While ECMS is a new program, ICE continues to identify and enroll eligible participants.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 10/13/2020