Sheriff refuses to hold jailed immigrants for ICE

Riverside County sheriff’s officials have decided to meet federal immigration agents halfway regarding the jailed immigrants wanted for deportation.

The county’s largest police station has agreed to notify ICE officials of the impending release of jailed non-U.S. citizens.

But the Sheriff’s Department is rejecting ICE’s request to detain jailed immigrants for up to 48 hours beyond their scheduled release.

Until a few years ago, state prisons and county jails throughout California honored ICE “detainers” as if they were federal warrants, keeping immigrant inmates behind bars for up to 48 hours beyond their scheduled release dates.

With social and legal changes, the detainers are now considered requests rather than mandatory. A U.S. district court ruling even found that a sheriff’s department violated an inmate’s constitutional rights by simply honoring an ICE detainer.

Yet, refusing to cooperate with ICE is controversial. Especially with several high-profile cases such as the man who was charged with fatally shooting a woman in San Francisco who was walking on a pier.

Last year, ICE announced plans to focus on more serious offenders and to ask law enforcement agencies to at least notify federal authorities when immigrants wanted for deportation are being released.

As the Riverside County sheriff’s statement noted, ICE continues to have access to fingerprint data taken during jail bookings and uses the information to check inmates’ local criminal records and immigration status.