In late June 2012, the Supreme Court struck down three provisions of Arizona’s SB 1070 and left a fourth vulnerable to future legal challenge. As has been well documented, the Court’s rejection of SB 1070 tipped the balance in favor of federal enforcement and away from state and local enforcement of the immigration laws. But this essay explores a less obvious consequence of the Court’s decision: its implications for the viability of a critical federal enforcement mechanism: the immigration “detainer.”
An immigration detainer is a piece of paper that federal immigration officials send to state and local jails requesting that they continue holding an individual for up to 48 business hours after he or she would otherwise be released, so that agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can investigate the person’s status and assume custody if necessary. Also known as immigration “holds,” detainers are the key enforcement mechanism behind federal enforcement initiatives like the Criminal Alien Program and Secure Communities.
There has been considerable confusion as to whether a detainer is a mere request that ICE be notified of a suspected immigration violator’s impending release, or a command by ICE that state or local officials hold a prisoner for ICE beyond the time the prisoner would otherwise be released. Independent of that question, however, the Court’s decision in Arizona v. United States identifies a more fundamental problem: that detainers may violate the Constitution and federal statutes even when honored on a voluntary basis.Read more...
Published On: Wed, Dec 18, 2013 | Download File