Sheriff Richard K. Jones announced that Butler County will no longer hold immigrants in custody for ICE. Keep reading for more information.
“It’s Better to End This Now”
Sheriff Jones has announced that he and others in Butler County will not accept ICE detainees and hold them in the county jail. The Sheriff’s Office has maintained a contract with ICE and the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. As a part of the contract, ICE detainees would be sent to Butler County jail to wait for deportation or their hearing.
Jones says that staff at the jail have managed the correctional facility well, but ICE detainees complicate their ability to run things smoothly. The influx of new prisoners is a burden on the community, and the Butler County Jail staff doesn’t have enough capacity to handle the demand.
According to Jones, “With the crisis at the border getting worse, it concerns me that the feds will ship detainees to my facility, then release them to the streets of my community under some technicality. It’s better to end this now […].”
Jones feels that the Biden Administration is not taking a strong enough stance on immigration. To him, the restrictive policies under former President Trump protected the community more effectively.
So, what does this mean for immigrants in Butler County?
ICE and Local Police
Since its inception, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has relied on local law enforcement to round up and turn over immigrants. The collaboration between federal agents and the local police is not explicitly defined, leaving room for abuse of power.
In fact, the only established regulation regarding the working relationship between ICE and police is that ICE cannot interfere in proceedings unless there is a clear violation of immigration restrictions. For example, an immigrant is pulled over for speeding, and the police ask for identification papers. Unless the individual’s visa is expired or there is some other issue, there should be no reason to turn them over to ICE officials.
In general, immigration is a federal matter, not a local one. However, the relationship between ICE and law enforcement is a very obvious interference in local issues. Often, immigrants taken in by police and ICE are deported before their criminal case can progress.
Detention and Detainers
Generally, ICE agents will issue a detainer or immigration hold to request that local law enforcement detain an immigrant 48 hours after their release. The purpose of a detainer is to give agents time to find evidence for detention.
However, imprisoning people without due process is a violation of their rights under the Constitution. In other criminal proceedings, the accused cannot be arrested without probable cause and/or evidence that would incriminate them. Police cannot hold an alleged offender in custody without a warrant.
ICE detainers violate the rights of immigrants and leave local law enforcement vulnerable to litigation and liability if they honor detainer requests. Sheriff Jones has made it clear that he sees the risks of holding immigrants for ICE, especially under the Biden Administration.
What Happens Now?
Immigrants in Ohio may feel fearful of what this announcement could mean for them and their loved ones. It’s important to understand that the immigration system is in flux, meaning that many immigrants are stuck in limbo between living their lives and deportation.
If you are concerned about your status and security, do not hesitate to contact Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A. Our team can help you protect your rights.