Saturday 20/01/2018 - 03:24 am


Arizona sheriff"s office says no more "courtesy holds" for federal immigration agents


2017.02.18 11:49

Maricopa County jails will no longer detain people flagged by federal authorities as a courtesy for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Sheriff Paul Penzone said Friday evening.

Penzone told reporters that earlier Friday, his office had been advised by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office that he faced a “threat of litigation because of the procedure, which forced the Sheriffs Office to change its policy.

Individuals no longer will be detained beyond the time that they otherwise should be released for an offense.

“There’s no further authority to detain an individual,” Penzone said. “We are following our legal obligation, to process that individual for release.”

Penzone said he alerted ICE officials to the change Friday, and that the new policy would be effective immediately.

The previous process was known as an ICE detainer.

After an individual is booked into a Maricopa County jail, the person receives a screening from ICE to determine whether he or she might be in the country illegally. If ICE flagged the individual, the Maricopa County jail would hold the individual for the federal government for up to 48 hours after the time the person otherwise would have been released.

If ICE finds an individual is in the country illegally, the process can initiate deportation proceedings.

Penzone said an ICE agent will remain in the jails and still will screen everyone who is booked. The changes come on the back end, when the individual is to be released.

Penzone said ICE agents will receive a notification when the individual is to be let out of jail, but the detainee will no longer be held longer than a legal citizen would be kept.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office will not facilitate the transfer to ICE, Penzone said. He could not offer clarification on how ICE agents would collect those the agency deemed fit for deportation.

“ICE will have to take a more aggressive position on how to act on those,” Penzone said.

A spokesman for the sheriff’s office said there had been 2,581 Maricopa County jail releases to ICE in 2016 and 249 to date in 2017.

Although Penzone noted that it was litigation that sparked the change in policy, he was unable to cite a specific lawsuit and referred questions to the County Attorney’s Office.

The Maricopa County Attorneys Office did not have immediate comment when contacted by The Republic on Friday night.

Late last year, a 31-year-old woman named Jacinta Gonzalez Goodman filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office alleging that the jail’s ICE detainers were unconstitutional.

Gonzalez Goodman, a Mexican-born U.S. citizen, said she was arrested and held overnight in jail without probable cause based on a detainer request. According to the suit, Gonzalez should have been freed the evening prior, when a judge released her on her own recognizance.

When reached Friday evening, Gonzalez Goodman said the change was “a great step in the right direction.”

The sheriff is absolutely doing the right thing by having any detention to have constitutional standards,” she said.

The MCSO adjustment comes as President Trump pushes a more aggressive police force to tackle illegal immigration.

Penzones predecessor, Joe Arpaio, was known for his hard-line stance and zealous policing tactics, which landed him in federal court on various allegations of racial profiling, costing taxpayers tens of millions in reforms and attorney fees.

 

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