Court rules immigration detainers violate rights and are illegal

Following a recent court decision, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office no longer is honoring detainers issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security.

On April 11, in a case involving the Clackamas County Jail, U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart ruled that ICE detainers violate detained individuals’ Fourth Amendment rights.

After the ruling, Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties announced they would suspend compliance with ICE detainers.

ICE detainers are requests issued to law enforcement agencies to hold people in custody for up to 48 hours so the Department of Homeland Security can take custody of that person.

Stewart’s ruling stated that ICE detainers are unlawful because they do not provide adequate authority or probable cause for keeping a person in custody.

“The fact that the detainers contain both language of request and command has led to conflicting interpretations as to whether the immigration detainers provide legal authority for the continued custody of the people named in the detainers,” Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said. He explained that Stewart clarified the issue by concluding the detainers are only requests.

Since ICE detainers are not accessed until a person is held at a jail facility, they do not directly affect small-town police agencies, such as the Sandy Police Department. However, people residing in Clackamas County could be affected if they’re transported to the county’s jail, said Sgt. Nathan Thompson, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office public information officer.

As the director of patient navigator services for Familias en Acción, a health organization out of Portland, Sandy City Councilwoman Olga Gerberg often deals with issues of immigration. She hopes this issue will present an opportunity to further educate law enforcement officers on the best practices in this area.

Gerberg said she believes detainers of this type cause “unnecessary suffering, unnecessary stress level to the families and unnecessary work.

“It’s important to hold everyone accountable for their actions, but be equal,” Gerberg said.

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