Immigration detainer/hold


Senior Member
English, USA
I am trying to find a good term to use for this. The situation in which this is used is when a non-citizen is in jail or prison in the U.S. and is released from state/federal custody. The person cannot be released to the street because there is an immigration detainer or hold on him/her. This means (s)he will be transferred to an immigration detention facility instead of being freed.

What would be the best way to say this: orden de detención del servicio de inmigración?
  • nv1962

    Senior Member
    I usually translate "immigration (or ICE) hold" as orden de retención (r, not d) -- with or without the clarifying extension "de los servicios federales de inmigración" -- as it is issued to keep a detained person incarcerated until the (decision on the) removal procedure is sorted out.

    Detención refers to detaining / incarcerating someone, i.e. depriving of a previous condition of freedom, which is not the case for already incarcerated persons.


    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Ah, sounds like you're an immigration court interpreter too. Thanks for your input. I usually encounter this when I'm working at immigration court in a prison and we have to explain to the inmate that he will be transferred to an immigration facility instead of being released. However, I guess that he will be 'retenido' instead of 'detenido.' Of course, in Spain, I know that detener is generally used to mean arrest, but here they usually use arrestar. Even so, retención may be better than detención because they are still going to be locked up anyway.



    Senior Member
    Actually, there's a distinction: "detener" is a straightforward equivalent for "to detain", which is not the same as "placing someone under (formal) arrest", i.e. arrestar.

    For example, a peace officer can (at first) detain someone on certain grounds, and later formally arrest that person; hence, it's possible to be detained without being placed under arrest.

    But yes: because a person against whom an ICE hold is issued is typically already in custody, that person is "retained" (i.e., kept incarcerated for a longer period of time than warranted by the "original" cause that had him/her incarcerated in the first place) rather than "detained". Hence the suggestion to use retención instead.

    Added later: yes, occasionally I do immigration court work, but mostly I ply my trade in "regular" courts. If I'm not translating of course. :)


    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Sounds very well thought out. I will use retención.

    By the way, I started the other way around - translation first, then immigration court interpreting for many years and lately regular court interpreting.


    Dani California

    Senior Member
    Spain, Spanish
    Por si te sirve Palomica: En España hablamos de orden de internamiento (en el correspondiente Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros). No obstante es usual que también se empleen los terminos: detención administrativa o retención.

    Camilo Levenson

    New Member
    English - USA
    This an old thread, but just FYI, an immigration detainer is not an arrest order and is not binding on the jail. It is a voluntary request to the jail from ICE. It is not like a criminal detainer.

    Veritas Patefacta

    Senior Member
    an immigration detainer is not an arrest order and is not binding on the jail.
    immigration (or ICE) hold" as orden de retención
    Yes, I agree with retención, but not orden because it is a request.
    immigration detainer/hold > retención de inmigración
    ICE detainer > solicitud de retención de la policía de inmigración, retención de inmigración
    "detener" is a straightforward equivalent for "to detain"
    The terms are false friends. These are the functional equivalents:
    detener > arrest
    retener > detain.

    In criminal procedure law, detention means confinement, e.g., when there is a detention hearing, i.e., a court must determine whether an accused should be held or released pending trial. Interestingly, the translations for these terms have their own cultural parameters: prisión preventiva, audiencia de control de la detención, respectively.

    Anwar Boylston

    Senior Member
    U.S.A.; English
    Palomica, the USCIS website has a parallel website in Spanish. Likely you already know that. Sometimes I look there to find usages that steer a translation.
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