Wednesday, March 5, 2014

ICE Detainer Requests Non-binding For County Jails To Hold Suspected Illegal Aliens

A federal appeals court ruled that local police and county sheriff's department's don't have to hold suspected illegal aliens under detainer requests from ICE.

By H. Nelson Goodson
March 5, 2014

Philadelphia,  PA - On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers to hold suspected illegal aliens in police or county jails are non-binding. The court decision makes states and localities liable for holding suspected illegal aliens to determine their legal status and participate in wrongful immigration detentions.
In the case of Galarza v. Szalczyk, in November 2008 Ernesto Galarza, a U.S. Citizen of Puerto Rican decent was held for three days in the Lehigh County Prison system after Allentown Police arrested him, two other workers and a contractor for selling cocaine to undercover Allentown Police detective Christie Correa. The contractor at the site sold cocaine to Correa and all of the suspects, including Galarza were charged with conspiracy to deliver cocaine. Galarza paid bail to be released, but an ICE detainer was filed indicating his legal status was being determined and Galarza was held for three additional days. ICE on November 28, 2008 learned, Galarza was legal and released him from jail.
Galarza claims that he lost his job, wages and his family suffered from his wrongful detention, even after he told authorities that he was a U.S. Citizen and was fingerprinted. He also claimed that he was solely detained because of his race or any valid evidence to determine he was an illegal alien.
The ACLU-PA stated, that a growing number of states and localities, including California, Connecticut, New York City, Newark, Cook County, New Orleans, and Washington, DC, have adopted laws or policies limiting their involvement with ICE detainers, or declining to treat them as a basis for detention at all. Although ICE has long characterized its detainers as "requests," this is the first time a federal appeals court has addressed this precise issue.
Galarza said, "This ruling makes me very glad because the Court recognized that U.S. citizens cannot be put through what they put me and my family through."
Tuesday's "decision confirms that all the states and localities that have decided to limit their entanglement with ICE detainers are well within their rights to do so," said Kate Desormeau of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, who argued the case. "It's risky for law enforcement agencies to treat ICE detainers as a basis for detention, as Lehigh County did. Detainers aren't warrants, and ICE routinely issues detainers without a constitutionally valid basis, as it did in Mr. Galarza's case."
The Third Circuit's decision will allow Galarza's lawsuit against Lehigh County to proceed in district court. The lawsuit seeks damages for Galarza, who lost a part-time job and wages as a result of his imprisonment, to the ACLU-PA.
Galarza was represented by Roper, Witold Walczak and Molly Tack-Hooper of the ACLU of Pennsylvania; Desormeau, Omar Jadwat, Cecillia Wang, Orion Danjuma and Esha Bhandari of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project; Jonathan Feinberg of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg LLP; and Seth Kreimer of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Federal appeal court Galarza v. Szalczyk opinion at link (PDF)

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