Sheriffs may end immigrant detainers

DENVER — Some Colorado sheriffs, including Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey, will no longer honor requests from federal immigration authorities to continue to detain someone once they are eligible to be released on the charges for which they were initially arrested.

The move comes in the wake of recent court decisions in Oregon and Pennsylvania that found that such detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement are not commands that local jurisdictions have to abide by, and that sheriffs could be liable for constitutional violations for holding people past the time when they would otherwise be released.

Immigrant advocates have argued for years that these so-called ICE holds are merely requests, not commands, and that holding inmates on immigration detainers could constitute due-process violations.

Several Oregon counties have stopped honoring the ICE detainer requests as a result of the court cases, and the city of Philadelphia is limiting the use of such holds.

In Colorado, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said in an email shared with The Associated Press that inmates with ICE detainers will be released once any state or federal charges are resolved.

“This recent court decision in Oregon is a game changer regarding ICE holds on detainers,” Pelle said in an email dated Monday. The email goes on to say that attorneys advised the sheriff that the office has “potential civil exposure, and no state statutory authority for holding people on detainers.”

Local officials with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday that their office has suspended ICE holds and detainers outside of any local, state or federal charges, much the same as Pelle has done.

“We hope a model on how to handle this issue and move forward will be developed soon, to include a policy for Colorado sheriffs to formally address this with consistency,” MCSO spokewoman Heather Benjamin said in an email Tuesday.

Staff writer Paul Shockley contributed to this story.


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