By: Yesenia Acosta, Esq.
As part of Obama’s Secure Communities program, there has been a strong cooperation between law enforcement agencies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). For instance, once local police runs the fingerprints and background check of anyone booked into jail, they are compared with ICE records and Immigration Officers are automatically notified of a hit, even if the person was not formally charged or convicted of any criminal acts. The immigrant detainee is usually detained longer until ICE decides to process the detainee and move them to an immigration detention center.
According to a recent article in the L.A. Times, more than a dozen California counties have stopped honoring requests from immigration agents to hold potentially deportable inmates beyond the length of their jail terms, claiming the practice may expose local sheriffs to liability. Officials in counties including Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino have stopped complying, citing a recent federal court ruling that found an Oregon county liable for money damages after it held an inmate beyond her release date awaiting a transfer to Immigration (ICE) custody. (See original article at: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-immigration-holds-20140602-story.html)
Immigrant advocates have long fought against automatic holds placed on arrestees because of racial profiling issues, and because the system does not discern between people booked for driving without a license from the enforcement priorities that focus on serious criminals. The recent refusals to comply with ICE holds may or may not signal a wider policy change. In the meantime, people without legal status in the U.S. must be prepared in case they are detained by law enforcement or ICE officials. Family members should not to give any information to officers concerning one’s immigration status. They should have contact information to a skilled immigration attorney at hand to contact immediately after any arrests to defend against a possible deportation.
Please contact our immigration attorneys for a free consultation, at: 1-800-500-1102.