Skip to Content
Services Also Available in Spanish, Portuguese & Thai

Have Restrictions for Immigrant Detention Facilities Been Lowered?

American flag behind barbed wire

In December 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made public changes to its National Detection Standards (NDS). These standards govern the treatment of immigrant detainees held in nearly 140 facilities in 45 states.


Many of these facilities include local and state jails and prisons under contract with the ICE. Despite being considered “civil detention,” nearly 20% of detainees are held in these jails and prisons in remote and rural areas in the U.S.

“Streamlined” Standards

ICE states that these new changes create a “streamlined,” “updated, modernized” set of standards. In reality, the new NDS weakens protections for detainees and lowers oversight requirements. Such changes could lead to disastrous consequences for the health and physical safety of immigrant detainees.

Quiet Changes

Under the new NDS, ICE no longer requires facilities governed by the NDS to maintain current standards set forth by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC). Also gone are the health assessments for detainees that were previously required to be performed to national correction standards.


Despite many advocacy groups fighting for adequate medical and mental health staffing, the new changes cut the standard of having care provided by a licensed physician. Instead, a “Health Services Administrator” can now treat detainees.


Officers have fewer restrictions when it comes to the use of force and solitary confinement. The former NDS specifically stated restricted the use of “hog-tying, fetal restraints, tight restraints, improperly applied” against immigrant detainees. These specifications were eliminated from the new standards.


The new standards have even eliminated requirements that preserve detainees’ basic human decency. For example, it is no longer required that toilet rooms have modesty panels, and the number of toilets per detainee has been lowered. ICE also removed language that required facilities to have outdoor recreational areas.

We Are Here For You

We are truly disheartened to learn that such changes that been made to already low standards. For immigrants and their families affected by the new changes, our immigration firm is here to stand by your side.


We will review the details of your case and come up with a personalized and strategic legal strategy that will work best for your situation.


Contact Maney Gordon Zeller at (800) 708-4399 to schedule your free case review with our immigration attorneys.

Our Locations