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Orange County Bar Association

Local Jails Decline to Honor ICE Requests for Holds on Inmates

Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo

According to the LA Times Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says that local detention agencies (like county jails) are disregarding immigration hold requests and releasing inmates. From January to August of this year about 8.3% requests from ICE have not been honored. Across the country agencies have different reason for no longer holding people for ICE citing legal issues or department policy. Typically inmates that are in the U.S. illegally are not allowed to be released on bail even after they have completed their jail sentence. A 48 hour immigration hold keeps them in custody until federal agents arrive to take them to immigration court proceedings. One ICE officer in Los Angeles explains that personnel have been shifted to going out into the field and locating illegal immigrants instead of transporting detainees from jails because of this change.

This shift by local agencies stems from two reasons: Some departments cite the legality of upholding such a request. California for example, has a law that limits immigration detainers. As a result law enforcement departments have reduced their compliance with such requests. In Oregon a court ruled that it was violation of a woman’s constitutional rights to be held in custody without probable cause. The Riverside County Chief Deputy cites this court ruling as a reason they do not hold people. Explaining that if they did hold people the department could be held liable in civil court. Another reason is a memo distributed by ICE explaining that immigration holds were “requests not requirements” according to the LA Times.

The second reason comes from departments trying to keep a good relationship with the communities they serve. Some officers explain that deportation threats scare people from reporting crimes. This makes communities unsafe and creates a break down between police and residents.

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