ACLU Files Information Requests on Immigration Detainers

April 15, 2013

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CONTACT: Meredith Curtis, ACLU of Maryland, 410-889-8555, media@aclu-md.org

 

BALTIMORE - In an effort to gather information about current practices and to educate corrections officials statewide about the civil liberties concerns that immigration detainers raise, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland is contacting jail and prison officials throughout Maryland clarifying the law and seeking information under the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) about how such detainers are being handled at their facilities, including information about immigration detainer numbers and how long individuals are being held.  

 

"All too often, immigration detainers are used and misused to arbitrarily deprive individuals who should not be in detention of their liberty," said Sirine Shebaya, a Liman Fellowship Attorney with the ACLU of Maryland. "It is very important for our local officials to understand the legal limitations and challenges of honoring immigration detainers, and equally important for the public to be informed about detainer policies and practices here in Maryland."

 

To educate Maryland law enforcement and detention facilities, the letter details fundamental facts about immigration detainers that are often misunderstood:

 

  1. An immigration detainer does not establish a person's immigration status. 
  2. An immigration detainer does not usually indicate the seriousness of an individual's charges and is frequently not based on the existence of an outstanding warrant for his or her arrest.
  3. Immigration detainers are requests, not orders, and the federal government may not compel state and local officials to detain anyone by issuing an immigration detainer.
  4. The ACLU has serious constitutional concerns about the legality of imprisoning anyone on the sole basis of an immigration detainer.
  5. Under no circumstances should an individual be held on an immigration detainer for longer than 48 hours after the state grounds for his or her detention expire.
  6. Individuals are constitutionally entitled to post bond on state or local charges even if an immigration detainer is lodged against them.

 

In addition, the ACLU letter highlights the significant costs immigration detainers impose on agencies that are not reimbursed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

 

The ACLU is also encouraging local agencies to support policies that limit the circumstances under which individuals subject to immigration detainers may be held in local custody. Such limits have been adopted by numerous localities across the country, including jurisdictions in New Mexico, California, Illinois, New York, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia.

 

In a separate action, the ACLU sent a Freedom of Information Act request to ICE to gather information about immigration detainers issued by ICE to law enforcement agencies and/or correctional facilities located in Maryland.

 

The letters were sent to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Allegany County Detention Center, Anne Arundel Department of Detention Facilities, Baltimore County Department of Corrections, Calvert County Detention Center, Caroline County Deptartment of Corrections, Carroll County Detention Center, Cecil County Detention Center, Charles County Sheriff's Office, Corrections Division, Frederick County Adult Detention Center, Garrett County Detention Center, Harford County Detention Center, Howard County Department of Corrections, Kent County Detention Center, Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, Prince George's County Department of Corrections, Queen Anne's County Detention Center, Saint Mary's County Detention Center, Somerset County Detention Center, Talbot County Department of Corrections, Washington County Detention Center, Wicomico County Department of Corrections, Worcester County Jail, Baltimore City Detention Center, and Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center. 

 

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