Local jails have refused to hold criminal aliens for immigration enforcement officials more than 18,640 times over the past two years, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data obtained and reported by The Texas Tribune.
The vast majority of the denied detainer requests were logged in California. Between January 2014 and September 2015, local law enforcement agencies in the The Golden State refused 11,171 detainers, or nearly 60 percent of the total number of denied detainers in that timeframe.
New York had the second most definer refusals with 1,965 detainer denials, followed by Colorado (1,143 detainer denials) and Florida (1,108).
Immigration detainers are a way federal immigration authorities officially request that other law enforcement agencies hold potentially deportable aliens. Detainers and particularly sanctuary cities — jurisdictions that do not comply with federal immigration requests — have made national headlines in recent months due to high profile crimes committed by criminal aliens released after the sanctuary city ignored detainers.
The highest profile crime was committed last year in the state with the most immigration request denials — California. In San Francisco, the murder of Kathryn Steinle at the hands of a multiple deportee, multiple felon who had been released from jail after the local sheriff’s office denied an immigration hold, ignited a national uproar over sanctuary jurisdictions.
In October a report from the Center for Immigration Studies revealed that there are about 340 sanctuary jurisdictions that have released, in total, an average of about 1,000 criminals a month.
The Obama administration has said that a new policy requesting only the most serious criminal aliens has more jurisdictions complying with their requests.
“ICE is committed to focusing on smart, effective immigration enforcement and makes custody determinations on a case-by-case basis, prioritizing serious criminal offenders and other individuals who pose a risk to national security or public safety,” Jennifer Elzea told The Tribune.
Republicans have argued that the Obama administration’s enforcement priority policy further weakens interior immigration enforcement and allows criminals aliens to remain in the U.S.