Across the nation sheriffs are increasingly releasing undocumented immigrants instead of keeping them locked up, as federal authorities would like. One of the reasons for the change is that sheriffs have become aware, after a series of court decisions, that Department of Homeland Security’s directions to hold on to the immigrants amount to mere suggestions or requests, instead of being warrants as the sheriffs had originally believed. The clarification has left the sheriffs with very little choice but to allow the undocumented immigrants to walk free.
Under the Constitution, once a person has completed their time served in jail or prison they must be set free. In other words, sheriffs are not able to lawfully hold a person after they have served their time or posted bail – even if the person is a suspected illegal immigrant – solely due to the fact that DHS requests them to do so. In fact, some sheriffs have actually gone as far as announcing that they would no longer honor the detention requests, called “detainers”, which are issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security. One such sheriff, Boulder County, Colorado Sheriff Joe Pelle, recently joined others across the country that are increasingly rejecting the requests.
The tide against honoring the detainers is turning as a result of several court rulings. For example, in April a federal court ruled that Clackamas County, Oregon violated the Fourth Amendment rights of a woman who was held on a detainer, even though she was eligible to post bail. As a result thirteen counties in the state have changed their policies to comply with the ruling. Other counties in the country are also taking notice, such as Sonoma County, California, which changed its policies in May.
For its part, ICE says that releasing the undocumented immigrants poses a danger to public safety. According to a recent USA today article, the policy of releasing the immigrants may have led to the death of at least one woman, when her boyfriend allegedly killed her after having been released in Chicago. That city stopped honoring the ICE requests in 2011. In all, the story says that almost 350 immigrants have been released since Chicago changed its policy to reject the requests.
These developments continue to underscore the difficulty the country is having when attempting to come up with a comprehensive immigration policy. Now even counties are fighting with the federal government. And due to recent political developments, things do not seem as if they will change soon.
If you need immigration assistance, you are recommended to choose to work with a qualified team of attorney. The Austin, Texas immigration attorney at the Lyttle Law Firm have the experience necessary to assist you. Call us now at 512-215-2552, or visit our website.