A civil rights coalition is demanding Florida law enforcement agencies in 62 counties stop detaining people for alleged civil immigration violations at the request of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Letters from the coalition of groups — civil rights, immigrants’ rights, religious and legal organizations — went to officials in 62 Florida counties.
In the letters, the civil rights advocates say requests for “ICE detainers” are not binding and that the detentions raise constitutional problems that could open enforcing agencies up to significant legal liability.
ACLU of Florida staff attorney Shalini Goel Agarwal said in a news release, “Multiple federal courts have ruled that detentions based on ICE detainers violate people’s constitutional rights, and many cities and counties are rightly opting out of them to avoid liability. We’re asking every county in the state to make the smart decision to discontinue their entanglement with ICE.”
An ICE detainer is a request from ICE that a local jail or other law enforcement agency detain an individual for an additional 48 hours after his or her release date, in order to provide ICE agents time to decide whether to take the person into federal custody and begin formal deportation proceedings.
In counties where law enforcement agencies honor ICE holds, individuals are being held even after being cleared of criminal charges against them.
Detainers, according to the ACLU, have resulted in the illegal imprisonment of countless individuals, including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents without any charges pending, sometimes for days or weeks after they should have been released from custody.
The letter writers call on sheriffs to join the two states and more than 150 localities that have chosen to limit or end the practice of keeping individuals in jails on ICE detainers based on constitutional and other concerns.
Some history of such actions in Florida:
• In December 2013, the Miami-Dade County Commission passed a resolution to implement a policy ending enforcement of ICE detainers.
• More recently, the Broward County Sheriff’s office announced that it would not enforce ICE detainers unless there is a finding of probable cause made by a U.S. district court or magistrate judge.
• The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office adopted a similar policy, although it is unclear whether the county will continue to honor ICE detainers based on orders from immigration judges, who are administrative judges in the executive branch or only from federal judges in the judicial branch.
Maria Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, stated on July 28, “Detaining and deporting hardworking Floridians and separating families does not benefit anyone and does not protect our communities. Unfortunately, other officials around the state, such as the Collier County Sheriff and Florida's Chief Financial Officer Atwater, are not getting the memo and since last week are turning over dozens of fruit workers to ICE."