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San Diego County Sheriff Puts End To ICE Immigration Holds

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore talks to reporters on Election Night at Golden Hall in San Diego, June 8, 2010.
San Diego County Sheriff Puts End To ICE Immigration Holds

San Diego County jails no longer will take part in the practice of holding inmates past their jail release dates to allow U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to take custody of them, Sheriff Bill Gore announced Thursday.

The decision ends the local agency's compliance with ICE "detainer requests," which seek to keep suspected undocumented immigrants in local detention for several additional days.


"The Sheriff's Department will detain someone past their local release date if presented with an arrest warrant based on a probable-cause finding by ICE," Gore said. "In cases where ICE has an immigration interest in one of our inmates and no ICE arrest warrant has been presented, we will continue our practice of notifying ICE of the date, time and location of our inmates' release."

Gore gave no reason for the policy change, but the American Civil Liberties Union attributed it to a recent federal court decision holding that a local jail had violated the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by granting an immigration hold without probable cause or a court-approved warrant.

"This is a huge policy reversal and a major victory for our communities, one that advocates have been working on for years," said Homayra Yusufi-Marin, policy advocate for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. "We applaud Sheriff Gore's action recognizing the important values of due process and equality under the law that are foundational to our justice system."

Gore's decision made San Diego County the largest county in the nation to stop complying with detainer requests from the federal immigration agency, according to the ACLU.

Sacramento County also announced Thursday that it would discontinue honoring the petitions. Other California counties to do the same include Alameda, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Bernardino, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Riverside.


Nationally, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Denver and a number of counties in Oregon have made the same decision. A coalition of immigrant and human-rights organizations coordinated requests to sheriffs across the western United States, urging them to stop detaining people at ICE's request to avoid damage liability.

Immigration holds allow federal officials to request that local jails hold suspected undocumented immigrants for a maximum of 48 hours past their jail release dates, excluding weekends and holidays.