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Walla Walla County Stops Enforcing Federal Detention Requests on Suspected Illegals

Walla Walla, other counties, stop honoring ICE detention requests
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Walla Walla is one of two counties in Washington state, and several in California and Colorado, that will no longer honor requests from the federal government to hold suspected illegals in jail if they’ve made bail or cleared of local or state charges.

Several recent lawsuits, say sheriffs, have resulted in local jurisdictions being successfully sued for violating citizens rights by being detained.

For years, local and state authorities would often hold a suspected illegal in jail at the request of  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) beyond the time they were eligible for release.   When a person gets arrested on a local crime or violation,  if they are suspected of being here illegally,  ICE would often issue a detention request that would hold them in jail for at least 48 hours beyond the time they were eligible for release.

The purpose of these holds, which began in 1981, is to allow federal officials to determine if the person is indeed here illegally, and if they have a criminal back round – here, or overseas.

However, sheriff’s departments are changing their policy now in the wake of an Oregon court case from 2012.   A woman held for 48 hours for contempt of court ended up spending two weeks behind bars due to ICE detention holds.  She sued, and won.

Another case from Pennsylvania has prompted sheriffs in Colorado and California to follow Walla Walla and Kitsap Counties.  A Puerto Rican born U.S. citizen was kept in jail for 3 days on an ICE hold because he was believed to be an illegal from the Dominican Republic.

Attorneys from the ACLU who have been fighting the ICE detention policy say these cases show local jurisdictions can be held responsible for violating citizens 4th amendment rights if they hold people beyond their normal release date.  ACLU lawyers say state and local officials do not have the authority to enforce federal laws.

 Walla Walla County Sheriff John Turner told by way of the Associated Press that by not honoring the ICE detention policy, they remove themselves from potential costly litigation.   He said:

“It significantly reduces the possibility that Walla Walla County will get sued for similar conduct that got Clackamas County (in Oregon) sued.”

Sheriffs say they will continue to notify ICE if they arrest a suspected illegal, and will honor the ICE detentions only if there is a federal arrest warrant for the person in custody.

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