The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse says requests by federal immigration authorities to detain people held in jails across the U.S. increased by nearly a third from January to March this year. Detainers were filed with 2,200 law enforcement agencies, led by Houston, Los Angeles and Phoenix.
The use of detainers by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement rose sharply after President Trump took office in January, according to a new analysis by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Use of detainers, commonly called immigration holds, began to increase last year well before the election or inauguration of Trump. But by March 2017, the second full month of the Trump administration, ICE records show that it prepared 13,971 detainers, up 31.7 percent from January’s level. Against a longer time frame, the number of detainers issued in March 2017 is still slightly lower than during March 2014 and only half the level of March 2011, when ICE detainer usage peaked.
Since Trump assumed office, a total of 2,207 law enforcement agencies were sent new ICE detainer requests, according to agency records. Topping the list was the Harris County Jail in Houston, with 738 detainers in February and March this year, or about 13 per day. The Los Angeles County Jail was second with 696 retainer requests during that period, and the Maricopa County Jail in Phoenix got 501. TRAC found that federal immigration authorities were “surprisingly reticent to reveal which detainers resulted in ICE taking individuals into custody, or in actual deportations.” And in an abrupt about-face, ICE is now withholding any details on the arrest and conviction records of those targeted for detainers.