The decision to suspend the immigration holds follows a California court ruling that ICE “is enjoined from issuing detainers to state and local law enforcement agencies in states where there is no explicit state statute authorizing civil immigration arrests on detainers” and from “issuing detainers based on probable cause, when the investigation of immigration status and removability consists of only a database search,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Nevada is one of those states described in the court ruling.
Overview of Program Established to Coordinate Immigrant Detention between Metro Police and ICE
The program that has now been suspended was formerly known as the “287-G” program. The 287-G program set forth a specific criterion to determine if immigrant detainees would be sent to an ICE detention center. The 287-G program also allowed ICE to request local police officers to hold an inmate for longer than their sentence or provide additional time to enable an ICE agent to arrive and detain an undocumented person.
287-G Program was Not Fully Embraced
There were signs that Las Vegas law enforcement were not fully on board with detaining immigrants based solely on federal immigration holds or solely to give ICE time to send an agent to pick up an immigrant detainee. For example, in December 2018, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo directed corrections officers to discontinue placing immigration holds on undocumented immigrants who had low-level traffic bench warrants.
At the time, Metro planned to continue notifying ICE about undocumented individuals accused of more serious offenses, those with significant criminal histories and those who have been deported multiple times.
The trepidation in fully embracing the program was understandable considering the numerous errors in state and federal databases. For example, a federal court judge highlighted the fact that data showed that nearly 800 detainers out of almost 13,000 were explicitly lifted because the person was a citizen or otherwise not subject to removal. Basically, this means hundreds of people were being falsely accused of not residing in the U.S. legally, according to knpr.org.
Policy Going Forward
The Metro Police Department will now only notify ICE in cases involving an illegal immigrant who is charged with allegedly committing a violent crime.
Positive Reaction to Suspension from Immigrant Rights Groups
The suspension of immigration holds by the Metro Police Department was met with applause by many public interest groups, especially those advocating on behalf of immigrants. For example, Sherrie Royster, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that she was “ecstatic to see that they made the right decision.”
Royster went on to tell the Review-Journal, “Nobody should be worried about forgetting paperwork on their way out of the house and being detained. It’s not the hardened criminals they were detaining; it was regular people who were pulled over for a busted taillight or blinker.” Royster highlighted numerous meetings she had with residents of Southern Nevada who were actually afraid to call their local police department because they were concerned that they would ultimately be detained and deported by ICE.
Hopefully, with the change in policy, many Nevada residents will no longer have concern with contacting their local police department during a time of need.