A federal judge yesterday reaffirmed that local law enforcement offices should not consider U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers mandatory.
“For many years, ICE took advantage of legal ambiguity to convince law enforcement to honor immigration detainers,” said Mark Fleming, national litigation coordinator at Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC). “We hope those days have come to a close.”
The Honorable John Z. Lee of the District Court of Northern Illinois dismissed NIJC’s 10th Amendment claim in the ongoing case of Jimenez Moreno v. Napolitano, citing the March 2014 Third Circuit ruling in Galarza v. Szalczyk that detainers are voluntary. ICE issues immigration detainers to request local police to hold individuals who may be deportable up to 48 hours so that immigration officers may assume physical custody. In Jimenez Moreno, ICE officials for the first time were forced to admit that immigration detainers are not mandatory, a concession the Galarza majority relied on in its decision. The legal concession provided clarity after years of vacillation by ICE regarding whether law enforcement officers were obligated to honor detainers.
The Jimenez Moreno concessions and Galarza ruling have provided the basis for more than 250 city and state law enforcement agencies to enact ordinances and other policies refusing to honor detainer requests. These no-detainer policies have played an important role in dismantling ICE’s Secure Communities interior enforcement program, which has resulted in the unnecessary detention and deportation of thousands of undocumented men and women, many of whom ended up in immigration custody following traffic stops and other non-violent low-level offenses.