U.S. Names Localities That Refuse to Detain Undocumented Immigrants
(about 4 hours later)
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security on Monday released a report naming local jurisdictions that do not cooperate with the agency to detain people suspected of being undocumented immigrants, a key requirement of the executive order President Trump signed in January.
The report, which covers Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, shows that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency charged with deportations, issued 3,083 detainers, which are requests to local police to hold people suspected of being undocumented immigrants.
The immigration agency reports show 206 of those detainers were declined by local law enforcement agencies. Travis County, Tex., which includes the city of Austin, declined the most detainers — 142. Los Angeles declined five and New York City declined four.
The report listed jurisdictions that do not comply with detainers, and sorted them chronologically by their “new level of cooperation.” The report said that New York amended its law in March 2013 not to honor a detainer. But the New York City Council enacted its local law in October 2014, and said it superseded any previous agreement. That law, which was approved by Mayor Bill de Blasio in November 2014, did allow for some cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement: if the detention order is accompanied by a judicial warrant and the person in custody has been convicted of one of 170 serious felonies — such as arson, robbery or homicide.
The report also includes the Nassau County sheriff’s office in the list of jurisdictions that since 2014 have not honored detainers without a warrant. But Nassau has been honoring some detention requests: those that come with an administrative warrant or a judicial order of deportation. In addition, immigration officers work in the Nassau County jail, unlike in New York City, where immigration officers were barred from Rikers Island because of the 2014 law.
Courts have also ruled that localities do not have to comply with detainers. A federal district court in Illinois in 2014 found that detainers violate federal law because they exceed the government’s warrantless arrest authority. The court said that federal immigration authorities must have a warrant if they want to take custody of an immigrant who is held in local custody.
“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, the agency’s acting director, said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement makes detainer requests to local law enforcement or jails to hold a person for 48 additional hours past their scheduled release if the agency believes the person is subject to deportation. The agency said this allowed time for its officers to question the person or take them to an agency facility where they can be held pending a deportation hearing.
Numerous jurisdictions bar their law enforcement agencies from cooperating with the agency in honoring the detainers. The localities, also known as “sanctuary cities,” refuse orders to detain suspects or even convicted criminals who have completed their sentences.
Others localities refuse to furnish information on undocumented immigrants who have been stopped for infractions like a traffic ticket.
As a result, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say dozens of criminals that should have been deported have been released.
During the campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly criticized these sanctuary cities for being uncooperative with federal immigration authorities. Mr. Trump’s executive order would also try to block federal funding to sanctuary cities.
Among the people that the immigration agency listed as having been released by local officials despite the detainer requests was Estivan Rafael Marques Velasquez, a member of the MS-13 gang, who was released from New York City custody despite a request to detain him.
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Mr. Velasquez had a criminal history in this country that includes reckless endangerment in the second degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, and disorderly conduct.
The report also listed Ramon Aguirre Ochoa, who was first deported in May 2009. In 2015, Mr. Ochoa was arrested on domestic aggravated assault charges in Philadelphia. The charges against Mr. Ochoa were dismissed and he was released despite a detainer to be taken into custody.
He was arrested again in Philadelphia in July 2016, and charged with having sex with a minor and assault.
Critics of the detainers say they can lead to racial profiling and holding people by mistake.
In 2014, a prison in Lehigh County, Pa., held Ernesto Galarza for three days at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which suspected that he was an undocumented immigrant from the Dominican Republic. Mr. Galarza was actually born in New Jersey.
The detainer report comes on the heels of Mr. Trump’s first budget proposal, released last week, that requests $1.5 billion for expanded detention, transportation and removal of undocumented immigrants. The proposal also calls for $314 million to begin hiring 1,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and 500 new Border Patrol agents next year. Mr. Trump ultimately wants to hire 10,000 immigration officers and 5,000 border agents for his immigration crackdown.