What should I do if a loved one is being treated badly while in ICE detention?

The detainee should report any incident of abuse, harassment, or discrimination to detention staff immediately. If possible, it may be helpful to create a log or record of the times the mistreatment occurred, and exactly what happened each time. If a dispute arises as to what actually happened, this log may be helpful as evidence to show that the detainee’s rights were violated.

If a detainee feels unsafe reporting the mistreatment to detention staff (or if the mistreatment comes from detention staff themselves), another resource to use is the toll-free ICE hotline at (855) 448-6903. This phone connects directly with ICE Headquarters.

The detainee or his or her representative should also file a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (OCRCL). The OCRCL will review the complaint, and may launch an investigation to determine if any violations have occurred. If the OCRCL makes a finding that the detainee’s civil rights have been violated, the OCRCL can make formal recommendations to provide relief to the individual and institute a change in policy. (See below for more information).

Immigration Equality also periodically files complaints to combat detainee abuse, so please contact our legal staff if you or someone you know is experiencing problems in detention related to being LGBTQ or HIV positive. Your input is critical in ensuring that our advocacy efforts to make detention safer for our community are successful.

How do I file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on behalf of a loved one who is being mistreated in detention?

You can either use the official OCRCL complaint form, or write a letter describing the mistreatment. However, it is probably best to do both.  The instructions and complaint form are online. In addition to a written description of the specific circumstances, the complaint should be accompanied with contact information, relevant documents, a summary of other steps taken. If you are submitting a complaint on behalf of a loved one, you must also submit that person’s written permission for the OCRCL to share information with you.

Email the completed form to: CRCLCompliance@hq.dhs.gov, or mail it via U.S. Postal Service to

Department of Homeland Security
Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Review and Compliance
245 Murray Lane, SW
Building 410, Mail Stop #0190
Washington, D.C. 20528.