Leadership

New York Sheriffs' Association: Federal Immigration Detainers Aren't Enough

By / Aug 5, 2014 (photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

With a mounting number of rulings stating that holding someone who has been arrested and jailed for extra time to allow for an immigration check is a Fourth Amendment violation, the New York State Sheriffs’ Association has encouraged its members to disregard federal detainers—unless they come with a signed warrant.

In a move that some say could disrupt federal immigration enforcement, the New York State Sheriffs’ Association is urging its members not to honor requests by federal immigration officials to hold foreign-born detainees for additional time to allow for an immigration status check.

The association’s recommendation, which at least nine New York sheriffs have said they would honor, was spurred partly by pressure from the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), which argues that such detentions violate the Fourth Amendment.

The move, which was first reported by The New York Times last Wednesday, follows a wave of federal court decisions that have raised questions about whether it’s legal to honor an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer.

No New Yorker should ever be imprisoned unless there is a warrant for his arrest or a judge has reviewed his case.

In an email obtained by the Times, the association’s associate counsel, Alex Wilson, noted that federal detainer requests were just that—requests, not mandates—meaning they’re not enough on their own to hold a person longer than allowed for the original legal infraction.

“[J]ail inmates who are held in custody solely by virtue of an ICE detainer are being held illegally, in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights protecting them from unreasonable searches and seizures,” Wilson wrote in the email.

NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman agrees.

“A foundational principle of our country is the right to due process. No New Yorker should ever be imprisoned unless there is a warrant for his arrest or a judge has reviewed his case,” Lieberman said in a statement, adding that she applauded the sheriffs’ association’s recommendation and that “nobody should be imprisoned based on a hunch.”

Even before the state organization spoke up, some sheriffs’ departments were disregarding the detainers individually, unless they came with a warrant.

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p>”It didn’t cut the mustard with us,” Estseban Gonzalez, who leads the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office’s custody department, told Syracuse.com.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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