How do I complain about detention standards and abuses?

The Department of Homeland Securities has procedures to address complaints about detention standard violations.  Following the steps can help you be more effective in bringing a violation to the attention of DHS, and securing redress.

It is important to keep copies of all written correspondence and document additional phone calls and other communication.

Gather the facts. It is never enough to just say "someone beat up my daughter/son." It is important to document:

  • Date and approximate time of the incident
  • Names, A numbers, and inmate numbers of everyone that was assaulted
  • Names and titles of everyone that assaulted the detainee
  • Names, A numbers of people who witnessed the event (including sympathetic officers)
  • Detailed description of the assault and the official response to the assault.

Write a one-page letter of concern. Including whatever relevant information you are able to collect above, write a one-page letter with a clear description of events and demands for recourse (see sample letters). Demands may include releasing people from segregation, contacting their attorneys, or providing medical attention, for example.

Contact the Officer-In Charge of the Facility: Each facility should have a complaint procedure as outlined in the detainee handbook.  Detainees must generally submit complaints within 5-10 days of the event.

Contact your Local ICE Field Office Director: Try to resolve any detention standards violation with your local ICE offices. Document those attempts and ICE responses even if such documentation is quite simple (e.g., copies of e-mail correspondence; notation of a phone call, message left, and whether the call was returned).

If Violations Are Unresolved At the Local Level, Report the Problem to ICE Headquarters: If the local authorities are non-responsive or fail to take appropriate action, report the problem to ICE headquarters. Such grievances should be submitted in writing or by e-mail and contain detailed information about the issue at hand and all prior attempts to solve the problem with local authorities.

Please direct these complaints to Mr. Timothy Perry, Acting Chief of the Detention Acquisition and Support Branch, ICE Office of Detention and Removal, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 801 "I" Street, Suite 980, Washington, D.C. 20536. Tel: 202.732.2912; E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For complaints concerning medical and mental health care, advocates should copy Captain Philip Jarres, Branch Chief of Field Operations for the United States Public Health Service, 1220 L Street NW, Suite 500, Washington DC 20005. Tel: 202.732.0100; E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

File a complaint with the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (OCRCL): Complaints on detention standards violations which are unresolved at the local level should also be filed with the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Complaints should be submitted in writing or e-mail to: Department of Homeland Security, Mail Stop #0800, Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Washington, DC 20528. For packages/overnight deliveries, contact the office at Tel: 202.401.1474, 202.401.0470 (Local TTY); Toll Free: 1.866.644.8360, 1.866.644.8361 (TTY); E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In addition, complaints that relate to abuses by ICE and other law enforcement officials; profiling on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion; and other due process violations should be sent to OCRCL at this address as well. Website: http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/structure/editorial_0373.shtm

Send a copy of all complaints to the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security.  The Office of the Inspector General has jurisdiction over all Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees and investigates allegations of abuse, misconduct and systemic problems.

After reporting the complaint to DHS, PLEASE send a copy to the National Immigrant Justice Center. This allows advocates to track the process: The National Immigrant Justice Center will keep a record of all issues brought to ICE headquarters and OCRCL. Please send a "bcc" of your e-mail correspondence, or a hard copy of any other correspondence, to Tara Magner, Director of Policy, National Immigrant Justice Center, 208 S. LaSalle Street, Suite 1818, Chicago, IL 60604. Tel: 312.660.1363; Fax: 312.660.1505; E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


donate button
bulletin button