Colorado is now the first state in the union whose complete roster of county jailers has individually rejected retainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Due to pressure brought by the ACLU, no more immigrants will be held in the jails until federal agents make a decision as to whether the immigrants will be jailed for possible immigration violations.
Mark Silverstein, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, cheered, “All sheriffs have agreed that they don’t have the ability to deprive people of liberty, even for a few days, because they are suspected of being here illegally.”
The pressure brought to bear by the ACLU had been building for six months; state law precludes Colorado sheriffs from holding suspected illegal immigrants in jail any longer than they would be if released on other charges.
The jails had been honoring ICE’s request to hold people in jail for up to five days after their usual release date; between October 2011 and August 2013, there were over 8,700 detainer requests.
But when the Colorado Legislature repealed SB-90 last year, which required local law enforcement to aid federal immigration authorities by reporting suspected illegal immigrants and holding them in jail, the ACLU jumped into battle.
In June, the ACLU negotiated a $30,000 settlement with Arapahoe County for a female illegal immigrant who had been a victim of domestic violence; she was arrested and held in jail for three days by dint of an ICE detainer request.
Silverstein said the use of the detainer system is particularly troublesome in domestic violence cases because victims were reluctant to report abuse.