Counties Devise Differing Policies Regarding Ice Detainers

During the last several months county sheriffs in a vast array of jurisdictions have adopted policies refusing to enforce detainers on inmates held in their jails issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Joining that list now is the largest county in the Baltimore area. Montgomery County officials said Tuesday they will no longer comply with federal requests to hold illegal immigrants beyond their scheduled release date unless ICE can demonstrate the person is likely to have committed a crime.

“I have decided that, effective immediately, Montgomery County will no longer comply with ICE detainer requests except for those requests that have adequate support for a finding of probable cause under the Fourth Amendment,” Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett wrote in a memo Tuesday.

In some ways this decision – which constitutes the third metropolitan county in that vicinity of Maryland- mirrors the policy adopted by the state of California when its legislature passed a law which prohibits the counties from holding such inmates once they qualify for release unless the individual has been charged with or convicted of specific crimes, including violent felonies, or is on the state’s sex offender or arson registries.

But ironically at the same time these measures to limit cooperation with ICE have gained momentum nationwide, the Board of Supervisors of the County of Los Angeles has voted to extend its controversial partnership with the federal immigration authorities. Its program, known as 287(g), places federal immigration agents inside county jails and trains jail employees to investigate whether inmates convicted of certain crimes are in the country illegally. Inmates identified through the program are often turned over to federal authorities after they are released from jail. Those voting in favor of the program’s extension view 287(g) as a tool to keep communities in the county safe from violent crime.

But its detractors contend that only a fifth of the inmates held longer under the program were Level One offenders who were convicted of murder, rape and kidnapping.  Instead they cite a 2010 Migration Policy Institute study of the county’s implementation of the program which found that the remainder was issued against people who had committed less serious offenses, including traffic violations.

It appears that the trend against honoring ICE detainers is not universal. Officials in some counties continue to view at least partial compliance as a necessary tool to reduce crime in their jurisdiction.

The Shulman Law Group endeavors to ensure its clients be kept abreast of all significant developments relating to the process of immigration to the United States. Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).  AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice.  In the course of Mr. Shulman’s involvement with AILA, he has been dedicated to educating other immigration attorneys about the import of helping intending immigrants to navigate a new cultural system. He meticulously follows all of the developments occurring in the battle over immigration reform so that he will be prepared to effectively assist his clients obtain residency if a new system is enacted.