For immigrants and their families, the idea of being detained by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can be terrifying — and the future of those detained seems very uncertain. Most people don’t even know how long someone is likely to be held once they are detained.
Compiled data from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) and Freedom for Immigrants reveals that detained immigrants can spend a long time locked away — which is not good news for immigrants and their loved ones.
How long are immigrants typically held in detention by ICE?
There’s no single set of data highlighting how long an immigrant can expect to remain in detention. TRAC’s statistics show that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) release at least 70% of immigrants on the same day they are taken into custody.
For those who aren’t released right away, the statistics are rather grim. ILRC records from 2017 indicate that the average immigrant spent 34 days in detention — but that rate is believed to have been steadily on the rise since, particularly during the last four years. In fact, data published by Freedom for Immigrants contends that it’s not uncommon for detainees to spend a year or more locked up. Their data shows how an alarming 48% of detainees spent between two and four years in a detention facility and 28% spent between one and two years in detention. Shockingly, an estimated 5% of those arrested by ICE remain in detention after four years.
The dangers associated with lengthy detentions
Many immigrants who have been fortunate enough to see the light of day following their detention have spoken out about the treatment they received while locked up. The picture that they’ve painted hasn’t been pretty. Many of them reported receiving inadequate nutrition or medical care, having their religious rights violated and not having access to an attorney. Such treatment can wear a person down.
While most individuals wishing to qualify for a green card must have initially lawfully entered the country, there are some exceptions to this rule. An immigration attorney in Daytona Beach can advise you whether you qualify for this permanent residency card and what other options you may have. They may also be able to help if you are trying to advocate for a loved one in detention with ICE.