Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated President Trump’s policy that municipalities and counties would lose federal funding if local law enforcement agencies do not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in identifying and holding undocumented immigrants in their detention facilities
The Trump administration argues that local police and sheriff’s offices must arrest and hold any suspected undocumented immigrants and turn them over to ICE officers for deportation.
Most local law enforcement agencies argue that their officers are not responsible for enforcing federal immigration laws and that doing so would hinder their ability to fight crime in immigrant neighborhoods.
Another argument against this directive is that it violates the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits the federal government from requiring local law enforcement to enforce federal law.
The 10th Amendment states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
Most local law enforcement officials, including Arapahoe County Sheriff David Walcher and Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz, agree that checking the immigration status of individuals arrested in their jurisdictions is not their officers’ responsibility.
Once an individual is arrested, their fingerprints are sent to the FBI for analysis to determine their criminal background and immigration status. That information is then posted to ICE for evaluation. If ICE finds that the individual is on a deportation list, it will issue a detainer request to hold that individual for 48 hours before they are released.
Most jurisdictions are not obligated to honor the detainer request if a warrant has not been issued. The detention center’s only obligation is to notify ICE when the individual is being released. Generally, depending on the charges, the facility must by law release the individual within 72 hours. If ICE officials are not waiting at the detention facility at the time of the release, the individual is free to go.
Attorney General Sessions’ contention that he has the authority to cut federal funds to municipalities he has classified as “sanctuary cities” goes beyond his constitutional responsibilities and would likely be thrown out of court because such action would violate the 10th Amendment and be deemed “arbitrary and capricious” for lack of a clear foundation in law.
Our local law enforcement offices are there to protect all residents, investigate crimes and take the bad guys off the streets. They are not federal ICE officers.
For the attorney general to threaten local government to enforce laws that are the responsibility of federal law enforcement is an unconscionable act of illegal intimidation and should be ignored by local agencies.
Our residents deserve better law enforcement, not less.
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