Minnesota's largest jail stops honoring immigration holds - KMSP-TV

Minnesota's largest jail stops honoring immigration holds

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Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek announces an end to ICE detainers at his jail. Photo by Rod Wermager / Fox 9 News. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek announces an end to ICE detainers at his jail. Photo by Rod Wermager / Fox 9 News.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said his office will no longer honor inmate “holds” requested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE detainers are requests for local jails to hold inmates up to 48 hours after they are eligible for release so they can be considered for deportation.

ICE detainers in the past have been interpreted by local law enforcement as mandatory, but multiple federal court rulings have clearly stated ICE requests are simply requests, not orders. The confusion comes from the language of the detainer request, which states the local agency "shall maintain custody of an alien."

An information sharing partnership between ICE, the FBI and local law enforcement allows immigration officials to monitor jail bookings. Of the 36,000 inmates received by the Hennepin County Jail each year, approximately 1.5 percent have ICE detainers.

Immigrant rights advocates argue ICE detainers have kept innocent U.S. citizens in jail for several days, sometimes without probable cause. In May, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota sent letters to all Minnesota sheriffs, asking them to stop honoring federal detainer requests that the ACLU believes to be unconstitutional.

“The practice of holding individuals without a proper legal reason is problematic and we are glad that Hennepin County took the proper steps to correct their actions,” ACLU-MN executive director Charles Samuelson said in a statement. “An ICE detainer is not a warrant; it is not approved by a judge. It does not mean that there has been a finding about the person’s immigration status; in fact many ICE detainers have been issued against US citizens. It does not even mean that ICE has probable cause to believe the person is deportable. Minnesota law does not provide sheriffs any authority to deprive persons of liberty because the federal government suspects they may be subject to civil immigration enforcement.”

Sheriff Stanek’s decision was made in consultation with the county attorney, the ACLU, local and national elected officials, the sheriff’s advisory board and Hennepin County residents. Hennepin County will stop honoring ICE detainers on June 12.

“My first responsibility as sheriff of Hennepin County will always be to enforce the law and abide by the Constitution,” Stanek said.

The Minneapolis Police Department, Chief Janee Harteau and Mayor Betsy Hodges fully support Sheriff Stanek’s decision. The MPD said its primary goal continues to be “to serve and protect the residents of the city of Minneapolis.”


“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will continue to work cooperatively with law enforcement partners throughout Minnesota as the agency seeks to enforce its priorities by identifying and removing convicted criminals and others who are public safety threats,” ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said in a statement.

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