ICE recently released the 2019 National Detention Standards for Non-Dedicated Facilities, making significant changes to detention standards that had been in place for about two decades. The revisions lower oversight requirements and strip safeguards meant to ensure adequate medical care. One change that has gotten less attention is to the policy regarding detainee requests to get married in detention.
Standard 2.10(II)(D) of the new detention standards says that ICE will review and approve detainee marriage requests on a “case-by-case” basis. The new standards do not indicate what factors ICE will consider in making these case-by-case determinations. In contrast, prior standards on marriage requests had provided that a detainee’s request for permission to marry “will be granted” unless: the detainee was not legally eligible to marry, not mentally competent to marry, the intended spouse had not affirmed intent to marry the detainee in writing, the marriage would present a security threat, or there were compelling government interests for denying the request. The previous standards explicitly stated that “compelling interests” do not include administrative inconvenience or the possibility that the marriage may allow the detainee to pursue a new avenue of relief from deportation.
How amenable ICE will be to marriage requests under the new standards will likely vary by jurisdiction. Unfortunately, many people in long term relationships who intended to get married before unexpectedly being detained by ICE now face uncertainty on whether they’ll be able to get married, which may be key to their case against deportation or their prospects for return to the United States following removal. We will continue to follow the implementation of the new detention standards. If you have questions about the case of a loved one who has been detained, please contact us to set up a consultation.
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