New Data on ICE Immigrant Detainers Show Sharp Drop Since Start of Biden Administration
(20 Jun 2023) According to the latest records received from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the number of immigrant detainers sent to local law-enforcement agencies declined considerably at the start of the Biden administration.

Monthly detainer usage during the Trump administration climbed above 15,000 for three months during 2018, but generally averaged between 13,000 to 14,000 each month before falling during FY 2020 to around 10,000 (with a temporary dip at the beginning of the COVID-19 partial government shutdown). It fell sharply once President Biden assumed office, falling to 2,200 by March of 2021. Usage has climbed slightly since that low and reached 3,782 during September 2021.

A few nationalities listed on detainers dominate. ICE has issued over two-thirds of all detainers (69%) since 2003 on Mexican nationals, although this percentage has been falling. In FY 2008, Mexican nationals made up 75 percent of all detainers, but by 2021, this had fallen to 57 percent—still a majority, but noticeably lower than in past years. Mexico was listed as the citizenship for 37,747 individuals on whom detainers were issued in FY 2021.

Nationals from Central American countries fell behind Mexico but have been increasing as a fraction of the total. Guatemala made up 6.2 percent of all detainers, but 9.7 percent in 2021. Honduras made up 5.6 percent of all detainers, but 9.1 percent in 2021. El Salvador made up 4.8 percent of all detainers, but 6.1 percent in 2021. Of the detainers issued in FY 2021, Guatemala was listed as the nationality on 6,424, Honduras on 5,997, and El Salvador on 4,031.

A few facilities stand out as receiving large numbers of detainers. In FY 2021, the county jail in Harris County, Texas received the most—a total of 2,184 detainers despite ending an immigration enforcement contract with ICE in 2017. The Maricopa County jail in Arizona, received the second most at 942. In third place was the Hidalgo County Jail in Texas. A total of 870 ICE detainers were recorded as addressed to that jail.

TRAC’s prior data on ICE detainers went through June 2020, and our previous report examined the brief drop in detainers at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current report uses new detainer data current through the end of FY 2021 (September 2021), providing a detailed portrait of detainer usage across the sweep of nearly two decades. These data are now also available to the public in TRAC’s Detainer Tool.

For more details, read the full report at:

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