Ruling that Local Jails Can’t Hold Criminal Immigrants May Affect ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Debate


Criminal immigrants have been held in local jails for years. However, a recent decision by a federal judge in Illinois may undercut this federal tool to deal with immigrant offenders.

According to the Texas Tribune, a decision made by a federal judge in Illinois in September undercuts a major tool federal authorities use to deport criminal immigrants.

U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee ruled the Department of Homeland Security exceeds its legal authority when it makes requests for local jails to hold non-citizen inmates.

So-called detainers are used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in cases where they believe someone being held on state or local charges may also be deportable for violating immigration law. After receiving a detainer, a local jail usually holds an inmate longer than it normally would. Typically, the inmate is held for 48 hours to give federal authorities time to get them.

Jail cell bars

Ruling says local jails can’t hold criminal immigrants

How The Michigan Ruling Impacts the Holding of Criminal Immigrants

In his ruling, Lee said the detainers were “void.” He said the detainers issued under ICE’s detention program entail detaining subjects without a warrant before making a determination that the detainees are likely to escape before a warrant is sought.

The National Immigrant Justice Center said Lee’s decision applies to Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin and detainers issued in about two dozen more states. The ruling’s impact could expand across the nation if upheld by appellate courts or if it spurs similar lawsuits elsewhere.

The ruling could be a boost to sanctuary cities, locations that shield undocumented immigrants from federal enforcement.

The case was brought by Jose Jimenez Moreno, an Illinois-based U.S. citizen, and Maria Jose Lopez, who is a lawful permanent resident living in Florida. They were being held on unrelated criminal charges when detainers were placed on them by ICE.

A spokesman for ICE in San Antonio told the Texas Tribune it is reviewing the court rulings to establish a course of action.

At Peek Law Group we are dedicated to helping those accused of being criminal immigrants who are facing possible immigration violations as well as offenses. We assist those facing deportation by taking cancellation of removal action. You can read more about it here.

If you need the help of an experienced Texas immigration lawyer, please call us today at v.

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