ICE detainers ask local law enforcement officials to hold undocumented immigrants — even those who have come across the law for minor reasons, such as traffic offenses — in jail until ICE can pick them up. Immigrant advocates say the practice destroys trust between immigrant communities and the police, and leads to people being deported over minor infractions.
Today, US District Court Judge Janice Stewart ruled that such ICE requests are not mandatory, that localities are not required to abide by them, and that they could be held accountable for wrongful immigration detentions that have no probable cause. The decisions follows a federal appeals court decision last month, and some legal experts say the change could spread across the state — and maybe even the nation.
As Judge Stewart wrote, in reference to the case brought on by the ACLU on behalf of Maria Miranda-Olivares, an immigrant woman who had been charged with contempt of court and should have been freed the same day, but was detained until ICE could pick her up:
This court concludes that … the Jail was at liberty to refuse ICE’s request to detain Miranda-Olivares if that detention violated her constitutional rights. Accordingly, the County cannot avail itself of the defense that its practice and custom did not cause the allegedly unlawful detention.
The nine counties will still hold immigrants for ICE if there is a court order or warrant. But the ruling makes it more untenable for local jails to hold immigrants for ICE just so they can be considered for deportation. Said David Henretty, Maria Miranda-Olivares’ attorney, to The Oregonian:
The way I read this opinion is that the jails need to take civil rights of their detainees seriously. If they fail to do so, they could be held accountable. I think that’s an important message out there to anybody, whether you’re a noncitizen, an immigrant or whoever.