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What Is an ICE Hold?

PVB Law LLC May 15, 2024

An ICE hold, or detainer, is a request issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to local law enforcement agencies. This request asks the agency to notify ICE before releasing an individual in their custody so that ICE can potentially take custody of the individual for immigration enforcement purposes.  

It's important to note that this is a request, not a mandate, and local law enforcement has discretion in how to respond. An ICE hold is not a final decision but a critical juncture in immigration matters.  

Finding out that a loved one has been placed under an ICE hold is a distressing experience. Officially known as an Immigration Detainer, the ICE hold is one of the mechanisms at the intersection of local law enforcement and federal immigration policies used to enforce immigration laws.  

In the heart of Atlanta, Georgia, we at PVB Law LLC stand as your dedicated ally in protecting your rights when confronting ICE holds. Understanding how ICE holds operate in Georgia, knowing the right steps to take, and understanding the legalities involved can make a significant difference in the outcome for immigrants, their families, and advocates within the community. 

What Happens During an ICE Hold? 

When an individual is arrested in Georgia, their fingerprints are sent to the FBI for a criminal background check and are simultaneously shared with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  

If ICE determines the individual may be removable from the United States, it may issue a detainer request to the local law enforcement agency. If the local agency honors the request, the individual can be held for up to 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, giving ICE agents time to take custody. However, if ICE does not assume custody within this period, the individual should legally be released. 

Does an ICE Hold Always Lead to Deportation? 

The path from an ICE hold to deportation is not automatic or guaranteed. Several factors come into play, ranging from the individual's immigration history and criminal record to their ties within the United States. Each case presents unique circumstances, which means the outlook can vary significantly from one person to another, and having the support of a trustworthy immigration attorney can make all the difference. 

Legal Implications of ICE Holds in Georgia 

The state of Georgia has seen its share of debates and litigation over the legality and constitutionality of ICE holds. Critics argue that ICE detainers often infringe on the Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, as they can lead to prolonged detention without a warrant or probable cause.  

As of May 2024, however, House Bill 1105 significantly alters Georgia's policy regarding ICE holds and immigration detainers. This legislation requires local law enforcement officials to actively participate in the identification and reporting of individuals suspected of being in the United States unlawfully to federal immigration authorities. Specifically, the bill requires sheriffs and other local law enforcement officials to notify immigration agents once they have identified an individual in custody who is believed to be in the country without legal authorization.  

This new legislation underlines the importance of seeking legal support when you or someone you love is subject to an ICE hold, and we at PVB Law are ready to defend your rights with compassion and integrity.  

Your Rights Under an ICE Hold 

Understanding the rights and obligations of detainees and their families is key to navigating an ICE hold situation effectively: 

  • Individual rights: You have the right to remain silent and do not have to disclose your immigration status to local law enforcement or ICE agents. You should not sign any documents or make statements without consulting an attorney, as this may impact your immigration case.  

  • Legal representation: You have the right to an attorney, but unlike in criminal cases, the government does not have to provide one for you in immigration proceedings.   

  • Right to a bond hearing: Detainees have the right to request a bond hearing to potentially be released from detention while their immigration case is pending. It allows a judge to consider their release based on factors such as flight risk and potential danger to the community.  

  • Appeals: If a deportation order is issued, the detainee might have the right to appeal the decision. Consulting with an attorney is necessary to understand and pursue available options. 

Responding to an ICE Hold 

If you or a loved one has been arrested and you suspect an ICE hold, act swiftly and efficiently to understand your status and options. Step by step, here's how you can move forward when facing a potential ICE hold: 

  • Contact law enforcement: First, contact the local law enforcement agency where the arrest occurred to inquire about the presence of an ICE hold. 

  • Request information from ICE: Next, contact ICE directly or through its Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) to obtain information on the individual's immigration status and confirm if an ICE hold has been placed.  

  • Seek legal help: Reach out to an immigration attorney immediately to understand your legal options and prepare for potential proceedings. An attorney can offer personalized guidance, represent you throughout the process, and help determine the best course of action based on your specific circumstances. 

  • Prepare for all outcomes: Inform your family and support network about your situation, ensuring someone knows your whereabouts and can assist in securing legal representation. Prepare for the possibility of deportation by gathering important documents (e.g., identification, birth certificates, passports) and establishing plans for childcare, financial matters, and other personal affairs. Collect any documents that establish your ties to the community, which can be valuable during bond hearings or in arguing against deportation.     


How Long Can Someone Be Held Under an Immigration Detainer? 

There is no hard and fast rule for the duration someone can be held under an immigration detainer. ICE generally requests that the individual be held for up to 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, to allow ICE to take custody. However, compliance with this request varies among jurisdictions based on local policies and resources. 

What Happens if an Immigration Detainer Is Not Honored? 

If a local law enforcement agency chooses not to honor an immigration detainer, ICE may attempt to take custody of the individual by other means. This might include issuing an arrest warrant or conducting an enforcement operation. The refusal to honor a detainer does not prevent ICE from pursuing deportation; it simply means ICE must find another way to assume custody. 

Can an Individual Challenge an Immigration Detainer? 

Yes, individuals have the right to challenge the validity of an immigration detainer through legal channels. They can seek assistance from an immigration attorney to file a motion in court, arguing the detainer lacks a proper legal basis or violates constitutional rights. Exercising this right can be a critical step in protecting one’s legal status and preventing unwarranted detention. 

Can an ICE Hold Be Lifted? 

Yes, there are instances where an ICE hold can be lifted, but this necessitates immediate and informed legal action. The process often involves complex legal maneuvering, requiring the guidance of knowledgeable attorneys experienced in immigration law. At PVB Law LLC, we are dedicated to exploring all viable options to challenge ICE holds and work toward favorable resolutions. 

By understanding your rights and the legal processes involved, you can approach the challenges that come with an ICE hold equipped with the key information to make the best decisions available. For those at risk of immigration enforcement in Georgia, remember, you are not alone. Numerous organizations and legal professionals specialize in immigration law and can offer support and guidance. 

Your Trusted Partner in Atlanta, Georgia 

When you or a loved one is subject to an ICE hold in Georgia, working with an immigration attorney who understands the nuances of immigration law and local practices is indispensable. At PVB LLC, our approach is to represent and guide our clients through these challenging times with empathy, integrity, and the utmost respect for their rights and dignity.  

With over 30 years of combined experience, our team serves individuals in Atlanta, Georgia, and the surrounding metro area. Fluent in both English and Spanish, we pride ourselves on being accessible to a wide community, ensuring that language barriers do not impede the pursuit of justice. 

For a comprehensive evaluation of your case and to discover how we can assist, contact PVB Law LLC today. Together, we can explore every avenue to address the challenges you face.