Franklin County Makes ICE's Top 10 List

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UPDATED Franklin County makes ICE's Top-10 list

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has listed Franklin County among the top uncooperative counties in the U.S.

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This story is part of the series

UPDATED Franklin County makes ICE's Top-10 list

Jim Hook , jhook@publicopinionnews.com Published 7:12 p.m. ET March 20, 2017 | Updated 2:43 p.m. ET March 21, 2017
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UPDATE – Franklin County Commissioner David Keller said on Tuesday that county officials have researched the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers for Jan. 28 to Feb. 3.

“We have checked the dates cited in the ICE report, and there were three inmates requested to be held, not five,” Keller said. “We have reached out to our contacts, but they have not returned calls as of now.  The jail has not released anyone to the street that ICE wanted.”

Keller detailed the outcomes for the three inmates with ICE detainers for that week:

  • One who entered the Franklin County Jail on Jan. 28 remains in jail.
  • Another who entered jail on Aug. 11 was released to ICE on Feb. 2 after the county case was closed.
  • The third who entered jail on Jan. 28 was released to ICE on Feb. 27.

CHAMBERSBURG - Franklin County, whose electorate overwhelmingly backed Donald Trump in 2016, is on the top-10 list of jurisdictions that do not comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests for detainers.

The county tied for eighth among the nation’s top "non-compliant jurisdictions" denying detainers for removable aliens, according to ICE's first weekly report required by presidential order. The report was based on the volume of detainers declined from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3.

The president’s executive order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” mandates the weekly Declined Detainer Outcome Report.

“We’ve not released anyone into the community that ICE has expressed an interest in,” said David S. Keller, chairman of the Franklin County Commissioners. “In practice, we’re not releasing people into the community they’re interested in. Public safety is not being compromised.”

Franklin County was among 18 Pennsylvania non-compliant counties named in the report, but the only one listed with a high volume (5) of declined detainers. The report lumps Franklin County together with uncooperative Philadelphia, which has the status of a “sanctuary city” for openly refusing to work with ICE.

Besides Franklin and Philadelphia, the non-compliant counties in Pennsylvania include Erie, Lycoming, Montour, Perry, Bedford, Butler, Westmoreland, Delaware, Bradford, Chester, Lehigh, Bucks, Montgomery, Lebanon, Clarion and Pike.

Franklin County considers ICE detainers to be non-binding requests. The jail does not hold inmates for ICE beyond their release dates. The county requires a court order in lieu of a detainer to hold an inmate.

“The county is considered an uncooperative jurisdiction because of the way our policy is written,” Keller said.

Franklin County is one of many Pennsylvania counties that developed their ICE detainer policies after a federal court awarded $95,000 to an Allentown man at the expense of Lehigh County. Allentown police had suspected that the man might be in the country illegally and notified ICE, which issued a detainer. The man, a U.S. citizen, was held beyond his release date in violation of the Constitutional amendment guaranteeing that the federal government cannot command states to imprison persons of interest to federal officials, according to the court.

Franklin County has a good working relationship with ICE, Keller said. Every day the jail sends a list of inmates it is holding and notifies ICE if an inmate that ICE is interested in is about to be released.

“In every instance ICE has been able to come to the jail and take the individual they are interested in,” Keller said.

Franklin County Warden William Bechtold was not available on Monday, but he told a reporter on Feb. 22 that ICE responds quickly in cases where undocumented immigrants are to be released from the local jail.

“ICE officials have been extremely responsive to our request and are generally here within two hours or less of a call,” Bechtold said. “Our relationship with the ICE office has been fantastic, and there has not been any incidents where an inmate was released that ICE wanted.”

ICE on average picks up two inmates a month from the county jail, he said.

The ICE report listed more than 200 suspected illegal aliens released from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3 by jails across the nation. Three releases were in Pennsylvania – two in Philadelphia and one in Chester County.

“Why ICE can’t report the status of the five detainers they requested (from Franklin County), I don’t know,” Keller said.  “If ICE expresses an interest in someone, then we have them come and get them. I would have been notified if someone ICE wanted had been let go. I was not notified.”

ICE had five detainers declined each in the counties of Franklin in Pennsylvania, Franklin in Iowa and Alachua in Florida, according to the weekly report. Clark County in Nevada topped the list of uncooperative jurisdictions with 51 refusals. Nassau County, New York, with 38 was second.

The report also indicated that jurisdictions across the nation declined 3,083 detainers during the same week. The outcome of the specific detainers was not determined because enforcement agencies do not generally advise ICE when a detainer is not honored.

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University indicated that ICE’s weekly report has limited information that “makes meaningful comparisons difficult.”

“ICE's report does not provide any information on how many detainers the local law enforcement agency may have received in total, listing only those that ICE recorded as refused,” according to TRAC, which gathers data on federal enforcement, staffing and spending. “The public also does not know, for example, how often ICE issued a detainer, but then decided not to take the person into custody. Or having taken individuals into custody, found it did not have a legal basis to deport them. ICE's report does not provide any information about the content of the detainer itself.”

Jim Hook 717-262-4759

Source : http://www.publicopiniononline.com/story/news/2017/03/20/franklin-county-makes-ices-top-10-list/99422444/

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