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Immigration lists pit Homeland Security against Washington County sheriff
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on March 24, 2017 at 5:08 PM, updated March 24, 2017 at 5:12 PM
National lists released this week naming police agencies that received federal "detainer" requests to hold undocumented immigrants for deportation caused widespread confusion.
One of the lists from U.S. Homeland Security singled out the Washington County Sheriff's Office as one of the "non-cooperative" jurisdictions that received the most detainers between Jan. 28 and Feb. 3.
That prompted Sheriff Pat Garrett to reference Oregon's history as a sanctuary state and why agencies here don't hold immigrants on detainers.
Here's a look at the latest developments.
Q. What exactly are the lists?
The report reflects one week of detainer information obtained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said spokeswoman Rose Richeson. ICE is under Homeland Security and is charged with conducting deportations.
The document names 10 counties identified as ones that "do not comply with retainers on a routine basis" that received the most requests to hold suspected undocumented immigrants for federal agents to pick up.
Washington County had seven requests, No. 7 on the list.
The report also names 206 detainers from various counties and states that released immigrants after jailers declined to honor the immigration holds. This list named Multnomah, Marion and Clackamas counties.
Those three counties released people convicted of driving while impaired, indecent exposure, drug possession and assault, the report said.
Q. What's a detainer?
ICE says it places detainers on immigrants arrested on criminal charges or those it believes "are removable from the United States," according to its website.
ICE requests local police agencies hold immigrants up to an additional 48 hours - excluding weekends and holidays -- so it can take custody of them.
"When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders, it undermines ICE's ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission," the website says.
The American Civil Liberties Union's website criticizes the immigration holds. "ICE's use of detainers to imprison people without due process and, in many cases, without any charges pending or probable cause of any violation has raised serious constitutional concerns," it says.
Q. What's the history of detainers?
The federal enforcement tool was created in the 1980s as part of drug war laws using fingerprint information to identify drug offenders who were in the country illegally, said Juliet Stumpf, a Lewis & Clark Law School professor, in a 2015 report.
Then under President George W. Bush, Homeland Security created the Secure Communities program to identify undocumented immigrants in general for potential deportation. They used the detainer mechanism to require local and state agencies to hold immigrants.
The program led to the deportation of 3,200 undocumented immigrants in Oregon -- including 588 from Multnomah County, 679 from Washington County and 411 from Clackamas County, and more than 400,000 nationwide, according to a 2015 federal report.
"It meant that the local police seemed to be the immigration officer to the community," Stumpf said in an interview this week. "And that meant if there was any concern about deportation levels, the face of immigration enforcement was the local police and not the federal immigration official."
Q. What happened in 2014?
U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice M. Stewart ruled that Clackamas County violated the Fourth Amendment rights of Maria Miranda-Olivares when it kept her in custody after she was eligible for bail. The county paid Miranda-Olivares $30,100 and her attorneys received more than $97,000, according to federal court documents.
After the Clackamas County ruling and similar rulings around the nation, the Obama administration announced it was ending Secure Communities in 2015.
Its successor, the Priority Enforcement Program, also relied on fingerprint sharing, but it gave the option for police agencies to decide if they would honor detainers and also allowed ICE agents to request notifications from them when a person would be released from local custody.
The program provided detailed guidance about the types of people who would be targeted for deportation, said Richeson, the ICE spokeswoman. Federal memos show deportation priorities for immigrants convicted of violent crimes and threats to national security over those convicted of lesser crimes, such as misdemeanors.
Q. What's different under the Trump administration?
President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January indicating the return of Secure Communities.
The program attempts to push counties to participate instead of giving them the option. Not only could criminal convictions but also now arrests initiate deportation proceedings. Severity of the crimes isn't a factor.What are the ICE deportation priorities? Immigration agents are to consider deportation arrests on people who: 1. Are convicted of any criminal offense; 2. Have been charged with any offense; 3. Have "committed acts which constitute a chargeable criminal offense;" 4. Has engaged in fraud or "willful misrepresentation" during any encounter with a governmental agency; 5. Has abused a program that provides public benefits; 6. Are subject to a final order of deportation; 7. Or if the ICE agent otherwise decides the immigrant poses a risk to public safety. Source: Department of Homeland Security Feb. 20, 2017, memo
Richeson, the ICE spokeswoman, points to a Feb. 20 memo from Secretary John Kelly that spells out the changed emphasis.
"All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States," she said in an email.
Stumpf said rank-and-file immigration officers once again, as they did during the Bush program, can pick and choose immigrants for deportation instead of following priorities created by agency leaders.
"What if ICE walked up to someone and said, 'Hey can we have a chat? Have you ever smoked doped?' And the person says, 'Once when I was 18, and I never smoked it since.' They have now admitted to a federal officer that they committed an offense that violates federal laws," Stumpf said. "Is that going to do it (cause a deportation arrest)?"
Trump also has called for the hiring of thousands more immigration agents.
Oregonians should expect to see a rise in the number of deportations and attempts to deport immigrants, Stumpf said.
Q. Now what in Oregon?
Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett said this week that he won't honor the detainers, citing the 2014 ruling in the Clackamas County case.
"Washington County will continue to follow the court's clear guidance that these detainer requests are unconstitutional," Garrett wrote.
Gov. Kate Brown and local leaders, including Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Mike Marshman, Multnomah County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury and Sheriff Mike Reese and others west of the Cascades, have repeatedly emphasized that they won't cooperate with ICE requests since Trump's executive order was published this year.
"Additionally, any agency that honors an ICE detainer is subject to civil litigation," Garrett wrote.
-- Tony Hernandez
The Oregonian staff reports from Bethany to Sherwood, from Forest Grove to Bonny Slope.
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