CEDAR RAPIDS — Of Iowa’s 99 counties, 22 said they will no longer hold inmates for Immigrations and Custom Enforcement without a judge’s order.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa announced Monday that 22 Iowa county sheriffs had informed them they would no longer honor the detainer requests. Erica Johnson, immigrants’ rights and racial justice advocate with ACLU Iowa said she was pleased by the early show of support from nearly a quarter of Iowa’s county sheriffs.
“I think it’s a great start,” Johnson said Monday.
The counties that are no longer honoring detainer requests from ICE are Allamakee, Benton, Cass, Clinton, Dubuque, Franklin, Fremont, Ida, Iowa, Greene, Jefferson, Johnson, Linn, Marion, Monona, Montgomery, Polk, Pottawattamie, Sioux, Story, Wapello, and Winneshiek. Sheriffs in Linn and Johnson counties have previously said they had not been holding inmates for ICE without a judge’s order since the spring.
Johnson said it’s possible there are even more counties that have joined those 22 and they just haven’t heard from them. She said she’s not aware of any county sheriff who has indicated they will consciously ignore the ACLU’s recommendation.
“In the conversations I’ve had with sheriffs, it was either appreciative and asking for more resources or there was some confusion about what we were actually talking about and what policies needed to be looked at,” Johnson said. “Having the conversation is a good place to start.”
No longer complying with ICE requests represents a shift in policy for county sheriffs. Previously, when an inmate was booked at a county jail and ICE requested a 48-hour hold while the inmate’s immigration status was checked, the county honored that request.
However, that changed following a court case in Oregon. On March 14, 2012, Maria Miranda-Olivares was arrested for violating a domestic abuse protective order and booked at the Clackamas County Jail. The following day, the jail received a detainer request from ICE, which it honored. Miranda-Olivares was told she could not leave the jail, even if she posted the $500 bail. She remained in custody on state charges until March 29, but was not allowed to leave for an additional 19 hours because of the ICE detainer. Miranda-Olivares filed a lawsuit against the county, arguing that the detainer was not mandatory and constituted false imprisonment.
In April 2014, a judge found in favor of Miranda-Olivares.
Following the ruling, ACLU of Iowa sent a letter to Iowa county sheriffs, informing them that ICE detainer requests “do not provide independent legal authority to detain a person” and complying with those holds could set up the counties for additional lawsuits.
ICE public affairs officer Shawn Neudauer said the agency will continue to work with law enforcement agencies in Iowa.