1. Enforcing immigration law is not local law enforcement’s job.
There is no federal statute that requires counties to enforce immigration law. On the contrary, counties are largely forbidden from doing so. Local law enforcement is authorized to enforce state criminal law. Immigration is federal civil law. Local law enforcement cannot arrest someone simply for being undocumented. While some states, like Florida and Texas, have passed detainer mandate laws, most states do not give local law enforcement authority to effectuate detainers.
2. Counties do not have to become Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) force multipliers.
Courts have held, and ICE has admitted, that immigration detainers are not mandatory under federal law. Immigration detainers are merely requests from ICE, wherein ICE asks local law enforcement to arrest and detain someone for 48 hours beyond the time that local law enforcement is authorized by law to do so in order for ICE to come and pick them up.
3. Arresting and detaining someone pursuant to an immigration detainer raises serious constitutional concerns.
Any county that effectuates an immigration detainer request from ICE is assuming the risk of litigation and liability. When counties re-arrest someone for ICE they are keeping people in jail without probable cause of a crime, which is usually the bare minimum required by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Several courts have found that carrying out these detainers and holding individuals in this way is illegal and violates the Fourth Amendment.
4. BOA counties and all counties holding people pursuant to ICE detainers are spending their constituents’ tax dollars for unlawful purposes.
Housing and feeding the people counties are unconstitutionally arresting and detaining for ICE costs taxpayers a lot of money. In 2014, one day in jail cost Florida taxpayers an average of $64.38, with the price in some counties being as high as $100 or more. This cost has likely gone up in the past four years. But ICE pays only $50 for up to 48 hours of jail time, approximately $25 a day. Every day a county holds someone for ICE is a day that county is losing money.
5. Nationwide, many counties have been required to pay large sums of money to people they have illegally jailed on ICE detainers.
Counties that have been recently sued for holding people in this way have had to pay between $15,000 and $350,000 each in damages and settlement costs. The average amount paid was around $95,339.
6. Sheriffs know that detainers are not lawful.
Sheriff Gualtieri of Pinellas County, Fla. – the architect of BOAs – acknowledged this in an email sent to all members of the Florida Sheriffs Association. He also stated he was working with ICE to find a constitutional workaround: Basic Ordering Agreements.
7. Entering into a BOA with ICE does not let counties off the hook if they hold people in jail for ICE.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU are currently suing Monroe County for its unlawful detention of a U.S. citizen at ICE’s request. Monroe County’s BOA will not protect it from liability for its illegal actions.
8. Counties should not risk a lawsuit over a practice its elected officials know is illegal and counterproductive.
9. Refusing to collaborate with ICE keeps communities safer by promoting trust between the community and law enforcement.
Victims of and witnesses to crime -- particularly people experiencing domestic violence – are less likely to approach the police or sheriff for help if they are worried about potential immigration consequences for themselves or their friends or family members. This is a terrible outcome – especially because special visas are available for domestic violence victims and crime victims, and local law enforcement can help victims obtain those visas. Sheriffs should not make county residents choose between risking their safety and risking deportation.
10. Counties have an obligation to their residents, not to ICE. No county in Florida has the duty to help ICE and CBP find and deport people.
We all deserve to live in a country where no one is too afraid of deportation to call the police and where taxpayer dollars are used to better the community.