Kansas Counties Will No Longer Automatically Honor Detention Requests from Federal Immigration Officials

Affiliate: ACLU of Kansas
June 9, 2014 12:00 am

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Kansas City, MO – Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Kansas received a letter from the Shawnee County, Kansas, Department of Corrections, advising the ACLU that Shawnee County will no longer automatically honor requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold a person without probable cause. Courts around the country have found that such requests are unconstitutional and that local law enforcement may be held liable for money damages for complying with them. Similarly, the sheriffs in Johnson and Finney Counties have indicated that they will no longer automatically honor ICE detainer requests without a warrant or other adequate showing of probable cause.

“[W]e have ceased recognizing any “probable cause” authority in the I-247 form, and have notified ICE of our decision,” wrote Brian W. Cole, Director of the Shawnee County Department of Corrections. “It is our desire never to hold a person beyond the period for which proper lawful authority exists.”

“I thank Director Cole for his prompt and studied attention to this important problem,” said Doug Bonney, Chief Counsel and Legal Director for the ACLU Foundation of Kansas. “Courageous acts like his keep the spirit of the Constitution alive.”

The ACLU Foundation of Kansas recently sent letters to county sheriffs across Kansas explaining some of the risks associated with honoring warrantless detention requests from ICE. In those letters, the ACLU Foundation of Kansas highlighted that an ICE detainer is not a warrant; it is not approved by a judge. It does not mean that there has been a finding about the person’s immigration status; in fact, many ICE detainers have been issued against U.S. citizens.

Several counties across the country have recently found themselves facing lawsuits after honoring requests from the federal government to hold suspected undocumented immigrants. The ACLU is working with law enforcement across Kansas and across the country to protect the taxpayers, the community, and the Constitution.

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