In response to an announcement by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) clarifying how agents should issue “detainers,” or holds for potential deportation proceedings placed on an immigrant arrested by local law enforcement, Staff Attorney Jennie Pasquarella of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California issued the following statement:
“Today’s announcement comes as welcome news. ICE has for the first time since the Secure Communities program was launched clarified and limited when ICE agents may issue an immigration detainer. That simple step will make a tremendous difference in the lives of thousands of people across the country.
But it doesn’t negate the need for further reform. Most immigration detainers do not provide a lawful basis for arresting someone and holding them in jail for hours, days or weeks on end because they are issued without probable cause. ICE’s reforms do nothing to address this most basic constitutional problem that has led to the needless, unlawful detention of both U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike, inspired racial profiling in policing, and crowded our jails on county dimes.
The guidance released today further highlights the need for statewide legislation like the TRUST Act and local law enforcement detainer policies that will ensure that local residents can trust the police without fear of deportation. For example, under ICE’s reforms victims of crime, like Isaura Garcia, a domestic violence victim who was arrested in error after calling 911 for help during a domestic dispute on a felony domestic violence charge, would still get a detainer. Under the TRUST Act, though, she would not be held by police for immigration, ensuring an important firewall between the police and deportation.”