San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore announced yesterday that the county will no longer honor “detainer requests” from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The detainers, part of ICE’s Secure Communities program, ask state and local law enforcement agencies to hold potentially deportable individuals in jail for up to 48 hours, even if they are otherwise eligible for release from custody.
“The sheriff’s department will detain someone past their local release date if presented with an arrest warrant based on a probable-cause finding by ICE,” Gore said. “In cases where ICE has an immigration interest in one of our inmates and no ICE arrest warrant has been presented, we will continue our practice of notifying ICE of the date, time and location of our inmates’ release.”
The policy change comes one month after a federal judge found that police in Clackamas County, Oregon violated Mexican immigrant Miranda-Olivares’ Fourth Amendment rights in March 2012 when they honored a detainer request without probable cause or a court-approved warrant. In the ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Janice Stewart said, “No federal circuit court ‘has ever described ICE detainers as anything but requests.’”
The legal precedent helped San Diego become the largest county in the nation to refuse such requests, joining Alameda, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Bernardino, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Riverside counties in the state of California. Nationally, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Denver, and a number of counties in Oregon have agreed not to honor ICE detainer request.
“We applaud Sheriff Gore’s action recognizing the important values of due process and equality under the law that are foundational to our justice system,” said Homayra Yusufi-Marin, policy advocate for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.
In the absence of comprehensive immigration at the federal level, states and counties across the U.S. are taking steps to address immigration policy. And while the House of Representatives has thus far chosen to not vote on the reform bill the passed the Senate last June, the chamber did approve an amendment yesterday introduced by immigration hard-liner Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to provide the Justice Department $5 million to investigate the release of criminals from immigrant detention.