The Pandemic and ICE Use of Detainers in FY 2020
(19 Oct 2020) The pandemic appears to have caused only a temporary and modest drop in detainer usage by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). By mid-April detainer usage already started climbing back up. These figures are based on the latest detainer-by-detainer internal ICE records, updated through June 2020, obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

ICE views detainers as a foundation of its Secure Communities program and has sought to pressure states and localities to comply. Despite the agency's continuing rhetoric on important role detainers play in immigration enforcement, ICE has changed its actual behavior and has been cutting back on issuing detainers for many months. Beginning in August 2019, the number of ICE detainers started to decline, and this downward slide has continued.

Between October 2017 and June 2020, almost every state experienced a decline in the number of detainers law enforcement agencies (LEAs) received. However, ICE state-by-state targeting did undergo some differential trends. During the past year, for example, ICE sharply reduced sending detainers to LEAs in California. As a result, Texas has taken the lead as the state targeted with the most ICE detainers. Michigan also bucked national trends. LEAs in that state according to ICE internal records received almost a two-fold increase in monthly detainers during FY 2020 compared with FY 2019.

According to agency internal records obtained by TRAC, ICE sent detainers to 3,056 law enforcement agencies located in all 50 states and the four U.S. territories during the first nine months of FY 2020. For most of these LEAs, receipt of an ICE detainer was an unusual event: 626 LEAs received only a single detainer during this entire period and half (1,572) received no more than five.

To read the full report, including national trends and full state-by-state comparisons, go to:

To drill into the data, use TRAC's free online web query tool now updated through June 2020. Track detainers sent to each state, county and individual local, state, and federal law enforcement agency.

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