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September 12, 2008

ICE announces new Performance-Based National Detention Standards for all ICE detention facilities
ICE enhances care and oversight of detainees in updated detention standards

WASHINGTON - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today the publication of forty-one (41) new Performance-Based National Detention Standards, four of which are new including: News Media Interviews and Tours, Searches of Detainees, Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and Intervention, and Staff Training. The performance-based standards will be implemented over the next 18 months to ensure that ICE continues to provide excellent care to those in custody. These standards are one part of ICE's comprehensive approach to detention oversight, which also includes facility quality assurance, inspection contracts and the publication of semi-annual reports. The enhanced standards will take full effect in all facilities housing ICE detainees in January 2010.

"As an agency built upon the fair and equal application of the law, ICE remains deeply committed to a process of continuous improvement with respect to the safety, the care and the well-being of every individual we detain," said Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for ICE. "These standards, developed with input from key stakeholders both inside and outside the United States government, reflect that commitment in no uncertain terms. These standards allow us to meet our solemn responsibility to all those in our custody."

"We sincerely appreciate Assistant Secretary Myers' leadership in ensuring that nonprofit organizations and the organized bar have a meaningful forum to work together with ICE on access to counsel, due process and other humanitarian issues relating to immigration detention and enforcement," said Bob Glaves, Executive Director of The Chicago Bar Foundation and one of the co-chairs of the DHS Enforcement Working Group. "Our country has vital security and economic interests in maintaining a fair and efficient immigration enforcement system, and we have found through the Working Group's ongoing dialogue with ICE that we have a lot of common ground with ICE on these issues."

"The DHS-NGO Enforcement Group was created to ensure that the newly-established Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies such as ICE and CBP maintained regular lines of communication with non-governmental organizations, legal aid providers, and experts in immigration and asylum law," said Tara Magner, co-chair of the Working Group and Director of Policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center. She continued, "Assistant Secretary Myers has consistently engaged with the Working Group in an open and constructive manner. While we have vigorously debated certain points of policy and law with Assistant Secretary Myers and her staff, these discussions have remained mutually respectful."

The performance-based standards, now common in the detention industry, allow reviewers to examine key indicators of a detention facility's level of compliance with a particular standard. They focus on expected outcomes and contain clear practices and outcome measures. Each outcome measure demonstrates how well a detention facility's protocols, procedures, and practices are achieving the desired result.

The publication of these enhanced standards brings the ICE detention facility oversight process into alignment with detention accreditation bodies and review agencies such as the American Correctional Association, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and The Joint Commission. These organizations set industry standards for healthcare and correctional agencies and accredit those that meet their stringent criteria.

"The American Correctional Association was the first in the nation to develop performance-based standards for total corrections operations including healthcare. I commend the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency within Homeland Security for recognizing the importance of measuring what written standards state, by actually documenting actions as opposed to only seeing them in writing. The ICE standards augment the ACA standards," said American Correctional Association Executive Director James A. Gondles.

The DHS Office of Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office, and members of Congress recommended ICE transform its current standards into a performance-based format to improve the accuracy and credibility of facility performance ratings and to match industry standards. Most of the thirty-eight (38) National Detention Standards (NDS) were originally developed in September 2000 under the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

All facilities housing ICE detainees are contractually required to be in compliance with ICE's detention standards. Their compliance with these standards is monitored through internal assessments, independent annual audits and quality assurance reviews. ICE will continue to work with its partners to determine if additional formalization is necessary.

Additional information and the new performance-based standards are available at