WASHINGTON – Two weeks after a federal court halted some detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Arizona law enforcement agencies say they are still doing business with the agency as usual.
A U.S. District judge in Central California ruled last month that ICE requests to hold people based solely on an electronic database of biometric data are an unconstitutional violation of the Fourth Amendment.
But the ruling exempts states where state law allowed local officials to hold immigrants, and Arizona is one of those states. That leaves the decision to county sheriffs – a fact that one Phoenix immigration attorney said has left cases in the state “all over the map.”
State law allows county sheriffs “the authority to develop their own protocol consistent with the law,” said Ryan Anderson, a spokesman with the Arizona attorney general’s office. He said the law bars detention of people for “longer than necessary” on suspicion of being here illegally.
But the law, supplemented by a set of guides from the attorney general, leaves enforcement to local discretion, he said. That includes how they handle ICE detainers.
For Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada, that means turning people over to Border Patrol, but only if federal authorities can come immediately and pick them up. Estrada will not hold them, unless federal officials have a warrant, he said.