DHS publishes weekly list of localities that refused to detain undocumented immigrants

DHS publishes weekly list of localities that refused to detain undocumented immigrants

Published
On Feb. 24 IU.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested a Brazilian national wanted for armed robbery in his home country. (Photo: ICE)

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security published Monday the first of what are expected to be weekly reports on local jurisdictions that refuse to comply with the agency’s request to detain people suspected of being undocumented immigrants.

The regular reports are part of President Donald Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order, which also directed the government to explore avenues to block federal funding to such localities.

The report, which covers Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, shows that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued 3,083 detainers, requests to local police to hold people suspected of being undocumented immigrants. Out of the requests, 206 were denied. The people detained had been arrested for other reasons.

Travis County, Texas declined the most detainer requests, with 142. Los Angeles County refused five and New York City refused four.

The detainer refusals are listed in a table format along with the citizenship of the detained, the detainer request date, the refusal date and the charge or conviction of the arrested. The crimes listed include drug possession, domestic violence, assault, robbery, traffic offenses, driving under the influence and, in one case, homicide.

Some of the detainers issued stretch back to 2014, with the data including instances only when a detainer was confirmed to be declined.

Detainer requests ask localities to hold people suspected of being undocumented for at least 48 hours past their scheduled release to allow DHS to assume custody for questioning and possible deportation.

“When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect the public safety and carry out its mission,” Thomas Homan, acting ICE director, said in a statement.

“Our goal is to build cooperative, respectful relationships with our law enforcement partners. We will continue collaborating with them to help ensure that illegal aliens who may pose a threat to our communities are not released onto the streets to potentially harm individuals living within our communities.”

A federal court in Illinois found in 2014 that detainer requests violated the Fourth Amendment, exceeding the federal government’s warrantless arrest authority. Some localities have chosen not to abide by detainer requests, citing that they can damage the community’s relationship with local law enforcement.

Jurisdictions who do not abide by the detainer requests or alert the DHS of arrests are commonly referred to as “sanctuary cities.”

Trump chided sanctuary cities while campaigning, and has featured “victims of illegal immigrant crimes” at events including the July Republican National Convention (RNC) and his February joint address to Congress.

Rep. Luis Guitterez (D-Ill.), a frequent immigrant advocate, denounced the list as an effort “to paint all immigrants as killers and rapists.”

“Trump and his team incorrectly see Fourth Amendment policies that require warrants to hold prisoners for the Feds as a threat to public safety, but the reality is that in most cities, the police have found that acting as deportation police makes it harder to keep their cities safe,” Guitterez said in a statement.

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