PHOENIX – Democratic Sheriff Paul Penzone has declared that Maricopa County jail will no longer detain illegal aliens flagged by federal authorities as a courtesy for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
On Friday evening, Penzone told reporters that the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office threatened litigation because of the holding procedure, which sparked the Sheriff’s office to establish a new policy, reports AZ Central.
Penzone alerted ICE that effective immediately, individuals will no longer be held past the amount the time they would otherwise be detained for an offense. He said, “There’s no further authority to detain an individual …We are following our legal obligation, to process that individual for release.”
Penzone is the successor of the highly controversial and no-nonsense Republican Joe Arpaio, who has a reputation of cracking down on illegal aliens. Arpaio instituted the “courtesy hold” policy, also known as an ICE detainer, to give federal authorities more time to launch deportation proceedings, according to reports.
After an individual is booked into a Maricopa County jail, the person receives a screening from ICE to determine whether he or she might be in the country illegally. If ICE flagged the individual, the Maricopa County jails would hold the individual for the federal government for up to 48 hours after the time the person otherwise would have been released.
If ICE finds an individual is in the country illegally, the process can initiate deportation proceedings.
Penzone clarified an ICE officer will remain in the jails to screen all individuals who are being detained. He explained that ICE agents will receive a notification when the individual is scheduled to be released, but the detainee will no longer be held more than a legal citizen would be kept.
Furthermore, Penzone states that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office will not facilitate the transfer to ICE. It remains unclear how ICE agents would collect those the agency deemed fit for deportation, says the report. He said, “ICE will have to take a more aggressive position on how they’re going to act on those who are in violation of Federal law, as we continue to enforce State law,” Penzone said, according to Fox 10 Phoenix.
A spokesperson at Penzone’s office told reporters there had been 2,581 Maricopa County jail releases to ICE in 2016 and 249 to date in 2017.
While it should be noted that Penzone did not cite a specific lawsuit that encouraged the policy change, there was a lawsuit filed by a Mexican-born U.S. citizen, Jacinta Gonzalez Goodman, in 2016 alleging the jail’s ICE detainer that the jail’s ICE detainers were deemed unconstitutional. She was arrested at a political rally protesting Trump for blocking a highway along with two white men who were allegedly not questioned by ICE during their detainment. The men were released from jail the same evening, said the report.
Goodman commented on Penzone’s changed policy, calling it “a great step in the right direction.” She argued that ICE agents shouldn’t be allowed to go on a “fishing expedition” and should have a judicial warrant prior to conducting a screening.
The recent policy change comes after Trump pushes aggressive policies to tackle illegal immigration, though Penzone maintains the ICE policy change is not related to actions taken by the Trump administration.
H/T: AZ Central
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