Sheriff's Offices Won't Honor ICE Detainee Hold Requests

A pair of local law enforcement agencies in the Midwest are sending what appears to be a chilly message to ICE, saying they will no longer automatically detain suspects for federal immigration agents.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has traditionally asked local jails to detain some inmates for up to 48 hours after they are eligible for release so it has a chance to determine whether or not that person is in the country illegally.

And for years, local law enforcement officials have considered those requests mandatory.

But recent federal court rulings have chipped away at ICE's sway over local lawmen, stating plainly that federal detention requests are just that — requests, not marching orders from the government.

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The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota and the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department in Kansas have both announced they will no longer automatically honor ICE's requests for detainee holds, potentially driving a wedge between their offices and the federal government over a divisive political issue.

Image: Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek at a press conference on June 11. KARE

"If we hold them longer than what they are already there for, if we hold them for any time just for ICE detainer, we could be civilly liable for that," Sedgwick County Sheriff Jess Easter told NBC affiliate KSN. "I don't know if taxpayers want to pay for that."

About 1.5 percent of the 36,000 inmates at the Hennepin County Jail, the largest pre-trial adult detention facility in Minnesota, have a detainer placed on them, according to the Star Tribune newspaper.

Stanek said he consulted with the county attorney, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota and other groups before shaving ICE's influence on his office.

The ACLU holds the ICE requests are unconstitutional.

— Daniel Arkin, with The Associated Press