Court to hear illegal alien detention case

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A Massachusetts court will hear testimony on Tuesday to decide whether state authorities can detain illegal aliens who are arrested on unrelated charges and ready to be released until federal authorities can come and take them into custody.

Sreynuon Lunn was arrested in Boston on an unarmed robbery charge last year.

After prosecutors failed to present a case against him, Lunn was supposed to be released, but while he was waiting to be let out of the court holding cell, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials came and took him into custody instead, armed with a deportation order dated from 2008. Lunn is an illegal alien.

Civil liberties groups hired attorneys for Lunn who claim that “state and federal laws prohibit state authorities from complying with requests from ICE to hold illegal immigrants who are taken into custody for up to 48 hours longer than local laws allow to permit federal agents to take them into custody.”

According to a report from Reuters, “Lunn’s arrest by ICE makes the case moot, but the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court agreed to take it up because it raised important, recurring time-sensitive issues.”

Immigration advocates are claiming that Massachusetts authorities who comply with ICE’s detainer requests “are violating state laws and the U.S. Constitution by carrying out an arrest without a warrant.”

In advance of Tuesday’s hearing, the state wrote, “This court should hold that Massachusetts law precludes detaining persons solely on the basis of an ICE detainer. Such a clarification of the law may require some (law-enforcement agencies) to re-assess their current policies and practices, and ICE will have to rely on other means to advance its immigration enforcement objectives.”

Federal officials, on the other hand, said that there are legal precedents on the books which allow state and local authorities to temporarily hold illegal aliens to allow immigration officials to take them into custody.

“Without such cooperation, criminal aliens would be released back into the communities, endangering public safety,” stated federal officials in a court filing.

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