U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE) may be one of the least understood of all the governmental agencies. That is because it is a relatively new agency, established approximately a decade ago, with the goal of consolidating several smaller federal agencies that all handled related tasks. ICE actually has three sub-agencies, or directorates: Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), and Management and Administration (M&A). Taken together, these three agencies handle immigration-related issues throughout the United States. According to ICE, its primary mission is “to promote homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade, and immigration” (ICE, 2016).
Illegal immigration is a hot-button political issue in this year’s current Presidential election, as well as one of the issues that has dominated public discourse for the past several years. There has always been a tension between enforcing existing immigration laws and acknowledging that many citizens and legal immigrants live where illegal immigrants are an integral part of the communities. That is why ICE’s Criminal Alien Program is designed to target illegal aliens with criminal records that make them dangerous to their communities. One apprehended, these suspects may face prosecution within other parts of the American criminal justice system. However, because of their status of being illegally within the country, they might not face traditional prosecution, but, instead, subject to removal proceedings. This process, which is also known as deportation, can occur before, during, or after other criminal proceedings.
However, ICE also oversees the nation’s entire civil immigration system, which not only detains illegal immigrants who have identified criminal records, but any non-U.S. citizens who have been apprehended and determined to need custodial supervision. In addition, ICE supervises those people who have been released from secured custody, but still face action in immigration cases. The following is a complete list of ICE detention centers with links to the detention center’s website: Etowah County Detention Center; Central Arizona Correctional Center; Eloy Detention Center; Florence Correctional Center; Florence SPC; Adelanto Detention Facility; Contra Costa West County Detention Facility; Santa Ana City Jail; Yuba County Jail; Denver Contract Detention Facility; Baker County Facility; Broward Transitional Center; Glades County Detention Center; Krome Service Processing Center; Wakulla County Facility; Atlanta City Detention Center; Irwin County Detention Center; Stewart Detention Center; Jefferson County Justice Center; McHenry County Adult Correctional Facility; Pulaski County Detention Center; Clay County Jail; Hardin County Correctional Center; Boone County Jail; LaSalle Detention Facility; Worcester County Detention Center; Bristol County House of Corrections; Plymouth County Correctional Facility; Suffolk County House of Corrections (South Bay); Calhoun County Correctional Center; Monroe County Jail; Freeborn County Jail Services; Ramsey County Adult Detention Center; Sherburne County Jail Services; Montgomery County Jail; Douglas County Department of Corrections; Hall County Department of Corrections; Bergen County Jail; Delaney Hall Detention Facility; Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility; Essex County Correctional Facility; Hudson County Correctional Facility; Monmouth County Correctional Institution; Otero County Processing Center; Buffalo Federal Detention Facility; Orange County Correctional Facility; Bedford Heights City Jail; Butler County Correctional Complex; Morrow County Correctional Facility; Seneca County Jail; David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center; Clinton County Correctional Facility; Pike County Correctional Facility; York County Prison; El Paso Processing Center; Houston Contract Detention Facility; Joe Corley Detention Facility; Johnson County Detention Center; Karnes County Residential Center; Laredo Detention Center; IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility; Port Isabel Service Processing Center; Rolling Plains Correctional Facility; South Texas Detention Complex; T. Don Hutto Residential Center; West Texas Detention Facility; Utah County Jail; Weber County Correctional Facility; Farmville Detention Center; Tacoma Northwest Detention Center; Dodge Detention Facility; Kenosha County Detention Center; South Texas Family Residential Center; Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center; Pine Prairie Correctional Center; Mesa Verde Detention Facility; Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail; Frederick County Detention Center; Geauga County Safety Center; Howard County Detention Center; James A. Musick Facility; Theo Lacy Facility; Albany County Correctional Facility; Allegany County Jail; Chautauqua County Jail; Clinton County Jail; Berks Family Residential Center; Carver County Jail Services; Cass County Jail Services; St. Clair County Jail; Teller County Detention Center; El Paso County Criminal Justice Center; Torrance County Detention Facility; Wayne County Jail; Franklin County House of Correction; Strafford County House of Corrections; Henderson Detention Center; Nevada Southern Detention Center; Washoe County Jail; Burnet County Jail; Brooks County Detention Center; East Hidalgo Detention Center; Central Texas Detention Facility (GEO); Jack Harwell Detention Center; Val Verde County Detention Center; Willacy County Regional Detention Facility; Karnes County Correctional Center; Rio Grande Detention Center; Imperial Regional Detention Facility; Otay Mesa Detention Center; and La Salle County Regional Detention Center.
As this extensive list makes clear, there are a number of ICE detention facilities throughout the country and some areas, especially areas on the border or with large illegal immigrant populations, may have multiple ICE detention facilities. Therefore, it can be difficult to locate a friend or loved one who is being held in one of these ICE facilities. Therefore, ICE maintains a Detainee Locator tool that can be used to locate any inmate currently detained by ICE or detained by ICE in the last 60 days.
One of the more troubling aspects of ICE detention centers is that many illegal immigrants are children or families with children, which means that children are being detained in ICE facilities. While there are family detention standards that are aimed at separating these immigrants from other groups of immigrants, an overview of the Family Residential Standards reveals that immigrant children might be detained in conditions that most of us would consider harsh if applied to our own children.
Regardless of where a detainee is being held, ICE enforces a standard visitor code of conduct for any and all visitors. Those who visit ICE facilities without the intent of visiting a particular inmate must file a request for a tour or visit. These requests must list three possible alternative dates for the visit. In addition, visitors can request that detainees speak with them during an ICE visit, but all detainee participation is voluntary.