After concluding an internal review of the Columbia County Jail’s practice of holding inmates for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement while they await transfer to a longer-term facility in Washington, Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson said Friday, April 25, that he has determined the county cannot house ICE inmates without documentation he said the agency would not provide.

“We were doing our review and decided that what we needed to do is have better documentation of the ICE people that we did have,” said Dickerson. “And we did make the request from ICE for their documentation. They said they were going to be unable to do that. And so we asked them to come in, get the remainder of the ICE inmates that we have.”

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office began reviewing its relations with ICE after a federal judge ruled April 11 that Clackamas County violated a woman’s constitutional rights by holding her after she finished her jail sentence, at the behest of ICE, while her immigration status was verified.

Several Oregon counties, including Columbia County, have announced they will no longer honor requests from ICE to hold inmates without charge while the agency determines if they are in the country legally.

Dickerson said last week his office was also looking into whether it could continue holding inmates for ICE pending their transfer to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, which serves as an immigration prison.

The conclusion, Dickerson said Friday, is that the Columbia County Jail cannot serve as a holding pen for ICE inmates — even those who have been charged or convicted and are slated for eventual deportation — unless ICE shows the county certain documentation.

“Moving forward, I do not expect that we will have any ICE inmates without the documentation that we need to make sure that we are aboveboard in ensuring that we’re following the Constitution,” said Dickerson.

Dickerson said Monday that the county wanted to see an arrest warrant, court order or statement of probable cause for each inmate to verify that it had a legal right and obligation to hold them. ICE decided to remove the eight inmates it had at the Columbia County Jail Friday afternoon rather than immediately comply, he said, although he added that it is possible the agency will reconsider.

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