Questions about personal property

Recently, a volunteer asked about a detained individual’s personal items that included identity documents, money, and a copy of the Quran. The following post cites portions of the current ICE standards as a reference that volunteers can consider when evaluating if ICE agents are following ICE rules regarding the personal property of detained individuals.

The Performance Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS 2011 rev. 2016) provides guidance on appropriate ICE detention procedures. First, standards indicate that ICE will want to keep the identity documents of detained individuals. Standards indicate that identity documents are confiscated at intake, held in the A-file, and are supposed to be returned upon deportation. AVID in the Chihuahuan Desert volunteers have seen these original identity documents come out during asylum individual merits hearings and are held by the prosecuting attorney. ICE standards indicate that detained individuals should be able to receive high quality color copies of their identity documents.

Below are some excerpts of the standards to review. To get a fuller sense of the rules, one should look over sections 2.1 and 2.5 of PBNDS (2011 rev. 2016). Section 2.1 Admission and Release 5. Search of Baggage and Personal Property (PBNDS 2016: 91) states:

Identity documents, such as passports, birth certificates and driver’s licenses, shall also be inventoried and given to ICE/ERO staff.

a. Facility staff shall prepare an itemized list of the detainee’s baggage and personal property using the personal property inventory form, or its equivalent. If a detainee has no baggage, staff shall use a facility container to store his/her personal property.

Part 2.5 Funds and Personal Property V. Expected Outcomes C. Notice to Detainees states:

The detainee handbook or equivalent shall notify the detainees of facility policies and procedures related to personal property, including:

1. which items, including cash they may retain in their possession;

2. that, upon request, they shall be provided an ICE/ERO-certified copy of any identity document (e.g., passport, birth certificate), which shall then be placed in their A-files.

Part 2.5 Funds and Personal Property V. Expected Outcomes E. Limitations on Possession of Funds and Personal Property (PBNDS 2016: 92) one finds:

1. The facility administrator shall establish whether a detainee may keep cash in his/her personal possession while in detention and, if so, how much cash each detainee may keep.

3. Identity documents (e.g., passports and birth certificates) are held in each detainee’s A-file. Upon request, staff shall provide the detainee a copy of a document, certified by an ICE/ERO official to be a true and correct copy.

Each detainee shall be permitted to keep in his/her possession reasonable quantities of the following, as long as a particular item does not pose a threat to the security or good order of the facility:

1. small religious items including religious jewelry items;

2. religious and secular reading material (softbound).

Part L deals with Lost or Damaged Property (PBNDS 2016: 97). If something has been lost or damaged, there is a procedure complete with forms to fill out.


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