Despite its cool sounding acronym, ICE, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been known to bungle some of its tasks.
A federal court in Oregon made a decision recently that seems to indicate a flaw in the ICE policy of continuing to jail immigrants who would otherwise be eligible for release.
And the court went on to say that when county jails are asked by ICE to detain immigrants for being immigrants sheriffs in those counties could be liable for constitutional violations.
Walla Walla County Sheriff John Turner wisely decided this week to no longer honor ICE requests to detain immigrants past the time when they would otherwise be released. These are people who generally aren’t suspected or guilty of committing serious crimes.
“This new policy is just one piece of our ongoing process of constantly and appropriately addressing new laws, court case decisions, new trends in law enforcement and risk management,” Turner said, adding the move should reduce the county’s exposure to lawsuits.
Turner was one of the first sheriffs to address this issue. Kitsap County (Bremerton), Thurston County (Olympia) and Yakima County have also taken this stand. King County went in this direction last year, before the court had made its ruling. Local law enforcement in other states are also falling in line. In Oregon, 30 counties have adopted this approach.
Turner’s approach to this issue was pragmatic and appropriately swift. As the dominoes from the federal ruling began to fall, the exposure to an expensive lawsuit increased.
Turner said following the interpretation of the law and risk management were his only reasons for his order. But, he said, the move will eliminate the costs associated with holding immigrants for ICE.
The new policy for Walla Walla County is simply a good move.