Newark, NJ- Amid outcries to end deportations for non-criminal offenders, and concerns over constitutionality, Colorado law enforcement officials in several jurisdictions have decided they will no longer detain immigrants at the request federal immigration authorities. This decision on behalf certain Colorado jurisdictions is the latest in a growing list of local law enforcement agencies that have moral and constitutional objections to immigration detainers.
Sheriffs in Boulder County, Mesa County and San Miguel County announced they would stop honoring the detainers in light of recent decisions by federal district courts in Oregon and Pennsylvania which established local law enforcement agencies are not required to enforce federal immigration laws and thereby have no legal obligation to honor a detainer. The courts affirmed that detainers are requests not commands, and therefore local jurisdictions would be in violation of an immigrant’s constitutional rights if they hold them on ICE detainers after they have posted bond.
The federal district court in Oregon in the matter Maria Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County, found that the Clackamas County Sherriff’s Department violated Miranda-Olivares’ Fourth Amendment protections from “unreasonable search and seizure.” Miranda- Olivares, who is a foreign national, was taken into custody for violation of a domestic violence restraining order, a minor contempt of court charge. This triggered a 48 hour hold from ICE. Based on her charges, Miranda-Olivares was eligible for release after posting bond, which her family did, but Clackamas County detained her for two weeks because of the detainer.
In their opinion, the district court established that an ICE detainer can be considered a second arrest, and therefore requires federal authorities must prove they have probable cause to detain an immigrant beyond their sentence requirements. In Miranda-Olivares’ case, the court said ICE was not able to demonstrate probable cause and she was wrongfully detained.
As a consequence of the courts’ ruling, several counties in Oregon, three counties in Colorado and two counties in Washington state and another in Pennsylvania have decided their law enforcement agencies will no longer honor ICE detainers unless the detainee is accused of a serious crime and a danger to the community.
Prior to this ruling, other jurisdictions, in California and Maryland, chose to deny immigration detainers simply to slow deportations for non-criminal offenders, many of whom have families that rely on them for support. Regardless of why a local jurisdiction objects to immigration detainers, refusing to honor them means more immigrants can avoid unnecessary incarceration and deportation.
There is no indication that New Jersey jurisdictions will change their policies in regard to immigration detainers, but the ruling means they have legal grounds to do so in the future considering the state’s large immigrant population.
Olivares’ case also serves an example of how a criminal charge, no matter how minor, can adversely affect an immigrant’s life. Because I practice both criminal and immigration law throughout New Jersey, and my first objective will be to make certain you are not detained longer than the law requires.
In any matter involving federal or local law enforcement whether it is criminal or immigration-related, an individual’s rights are paramount. As a Jersey City immigration attorney, I know what an immigrant’s rights are and will vigorously defend those rights.