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Detainers are requests that do not legally require compliance

As a Texas immigrant, you likely encountered numerous challenges when you first arrived and began to adapt to life in the United States. In fact, even though you've been here for some time, living, working and raising your family, you may still experience situations where you feel anxious or stressed regarding some aspect of your legal status or some other immigration-related issue.  

If you have faced conviction for a misdemeanor or other criminal offense, and the judge overseeing your case sentenced you to jail, you may be worried about immigration detainers. There's definitely no shortage of stories in the news regarding Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arresting people scheduled for release from local jails. The more you know about detainers, as well as what your rights are and how to protect them, the better.  

Compliance is voluntary 

When ICE officers ask jailers to hold a person scheduled for release after serving a full sentence, it is not a legal order but merely a request. The jail officials in question may decide whether or not they wish to comply with the request. ICE and other government entities use detainers as a tool to buy them time when they are trying to catch up with someone they have identified as potentially deportable. 

ICE is supposed to have evidence against you      

Before asking jail officials to keep you behind bars beyond your sentence, ICE is supposed to be able to show clear evidence that you are eligible for removal. Such evidence may include documents that confirm that you were already navigating removal proceedings before your criminal arrest.  

How do they know you are there?         

You might wonder how ICE officials would ever come to know that you are in jail. It so happens that there are ICE agents present in many local jails in Texas and other states. In such circumstances, these officials often pour over booking documents to check for people who are immigrants who might be at risk for deportation. There are also times when non-immigrant officer jail officials contact ICE or U.S. Homeland Security to inform them of a particular person's presence in jail.  

Federal lawsuits 

Many immigrants have filed lawsuits regarding detainers. In fact, federal courts have ruled in numerous cases that compliance with detainers is voluntary and that certain aspects regarding detainers conflict with personal rights protected under the U.S. Constitution.

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