Marion and Polk end jail holds on immigrants for ICE

Article subtitle: 
A warrant from ICE will be required
Article author: 
Laura Fosmire
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Article date: 
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Article category: 
Oregon Issues
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Both the Marion County and Polk County jails will no longer hold foreign-born persons in jail based solely on formal requests from federal immigration officials, county sheriffs announced this week.

Officials at both jails now will require a warrant from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, otherwise known as ICE, in order to keep someone in custody. Inmates previously could be held solely on a formal request from the agency known as an immigration detainer.

The policy changes were triggered by a U.S. District Court of Oregon decision announced last Friday in the case of Maria Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County.

In that case, Miranda-Olivares was arrested for violating a domestic violence restraining order and subsequently booked into the Clackamas County jail. As is customary policy when someone of foreign birth is lodged into the jail, officials notified ICE, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security.

ICE issued a request to the jail, called an immigration detainer, that Miranda-Olivares be kept in custody up to 48 hours as ICE officials investigated her immigration status.

The trouble arose when, after Miranda-Olivares finished her court case and was supposed to be released from custody, the jail continued to keep her an additional 19 hours before she was released into the custody of Homeland Security agents.

The federal court ruled that the jail misinterpreted ICE’s request as mandatory, and violated Miranda-Olivares’s Fourth Amendment rights because keeping her at the jail essentially meant she was taken into custody a second time despite not having a new warrant for her arrest.

That decision has started a ripple effect among Oregon’s sheriffs, some of whom have swiftly acted to change their policies to comply with the law.

Marion County Sheriff Jason Myers sent out a statement Thursday saying that, effective Wednesday, the jail would no longer hold inmates based solely on immigration detainers. If ICE officials want the jail to keep someone in custody, they must issue a federal judicial warrant or court order.

“ICE may issue or forward a federal judicial warrant or order authorizing a suspected alien’s detention, and the jail will honor such warrants and orders,” the statement read. “Jail staff will continue to collect and submit information to ICE regarding foreign-born arrestees, but will not place holds upon such arrestees unless a judicial warrant or court order is received authorizing detention.”

Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Chris Baldridge confirmed that little else is changing as a result.

“Basically, what the decision says is we can’t hold on their detainers anymore,” he explained. “We will continue to share information with ICE, but if they want us to hold their detainees for them, they will have to give us a judicial warrant.”

Polk County Sheriff Bob Wolfe confirmed Friday that the Polk County jail has taken the same position.

As of April 10, there were 36 inmates in the Marion County jail with ICE holds. The jail roster Thursday afternoon had wiped all record of ICE holds.

“All of those folks are being held on detainers and those detainers are no longer valid,” Baldridge said. “So in compliance with the new court decision, we’re not going to hold them anymore on those detainers.”

That doesn’t automatically mean all 36 go free, however. Almost all of the inmates are facing charges in Marion County and will continue to be prosecuted for those charges as normal.

Baldridge confirmed only one inmate was released as a direct result of the change in policy. Silvestre Hernandez-Hernandez had already served a sentence on a possession of methamphetamine charge and was being held solely on a detainer; he has since been released.

The sheriff’s offices in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties all announced Wednesday that they would also suspend the placement of immigration detainers in their jails.

“The Sheriffs are committed to remaining in compliance with all state and federal laws and the Constitution of the United States,” they announced in a joint statement. “As the pertinent law evolves through court decisions and/or legislation the sheriffs will adjust their policies accordingly.”

Baldridge emphasized that Marion County would do the same.

“We are going to comply with what the courts request of us,” he said.