State Attorney General Weighs in on ACLU-MN Case, Opposing DOJ

Affiliate: ACLU of Minnesota
March 15, 2019 12:00 pm

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The State of Minnesota just weighed in on ACLU-MN’s side of a lawsuit filed to stop Nobles County and its Sheriff from detaining immigrants for ICE without proper authority.

The court has granted ACLU-MN a temporary restraining order to stop the ICE detentions, and class action status for the lawsuit. The county is appealing that TRO, and the Department of Justice filed an amicus curiae supporting the county’s position.

On Wednesday, the State of Minnesota – through Attorney General Keith Ellison and Solicitor General Liz Kramer – filed an amicus on the side of the ACLU and our immigrant plaintiffs.

The state’s strongly worded brief supports the TRO, and opposes the county and DOJ’s position.

The Attorney General’s brief argues that Minnesota law does not authorize its law enforcement officers to detain people – who would otherwise be released – on the basis of documents sent by ICE.

In particular, the Attorney General argues that the “the continued hold by Nobles County of an otherwise free individual is an arrest in violation of Minnesota law,” and that “there is no support in Minnesota statutes or common law for a Minnesota peace officer to arrest individuals” based on documents received from ICE.

The brief highlights that counties that detain immigrants for ICE can be liable for ICE’s mistakes, a burden the state should not have to bear on behalf of federal authorities. (The brief identifies several recent cases across the country in which ICE has detained and even tried to deport citizens as examples.)

Such clear statements from the chief legal officer of the State of Minnesota strongly suggest that plaintiffs’ view of Minnesota law is correct and will overcome the county and DOJ’s arguments.

“We anticipate that the state weighing in in support of the plaintiffs’ view of Minnesota officers’ arrest and detention authority will factor strongly into the ultimate outcome of this appeal,” said attorney Norman H. Pentelovitch, an attorney with Anthony Ostlund Baer & Louwagie, P.A. who is working with ACLU-MN on the case.

The class of plaintiffs is represented by Pentelovitch, along with ACLU-MN Legal Director Terri Nelson and staff attorney Ian Bratlie of ACLU-MN’s Greater Minnesota Racial Justice Project.

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