U.S. Law Center

Immigration detainers may be limited to convicted felons

In our previous post, we discussed how the federal class action lawsuit involving improper immigration detainers will proceed, giving those illegally held on suspected immigration violations permission to sue the government in federal court. In an interesting coincidence, local law enforcement agencies throughout the state of California are poised to change the way they deal with immigration based holds.

According to a report by hispanicallyspeakingnews.com, local law enforcement agencies may choose to use detainer holds only on suspected illegal immigrants with felony convictions. This move may greatly reduce the number of potential undocumented immigrants from being deported.

Besides the federal lawsuit, there are several possible reasons behind the potential change. First, cost cutting is a common theme behind policy changes in California. The cost of holding non-violent offenders has been point of contention as public entities throughout the state have been forced to endure budget cuts. Also, the federal mandate to curb overcrowding in state prisons has but county jails in a bind. With so fewer beds due to offenders coming from penitentiaries, a growing number of county jails are not holding non-violent offenders (especially those held on drug charges).

Nevertheless, local police and sheriff's departments have a great deal of planning ahead, as they work to reach a solution with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern suggested that a change to California's penal code may be necessary to give law enforcement more discretion in holding detainees.

In the meantime, suspected illegal immigrants may only be held for a limited amount of time unless federal authorities take them into custody. To learn more about improper immigration holds, visit our website page.

Source: HispanicallySpeakingNews.com, California jails may limit immigration holds to convicts only, December 20, 2012

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