Immigration Law

Plan would designate sheriffs as ICE contractors in bid to bypass Fourth Amendment court decisions

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President Donald Trump's administration is reportedly discussing a plan with sheriffs across the country that is intended to address Fourth Amendment problems when local jails detain immigrants past their release date on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Several sheriffs told the New York Times about the legal maneuver in which sheriffs would become ICE contractors, and the jails would be paid a daily fee to hold immigrants believed to be in the country illegally until ICE takes custody.

ICE spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez told the Times that the agency was exploring a number of options to address sheriffs’ concerns, and no final decision has been made.

The Times explains the Fourth Amendment issue. Sheriffs enforce criminal law, and they can’t make immigration arrests because they are civil in nature. Because of that difference, judges have found that holding immigrants who have paid bail or served their sentence is an unlawful seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri of Pinellas County, Florida, told the newspaper that he came up with the reasoning supporting the idea and presented it to ICE. “It’s a seamless transition,” said Gualtieri, who is also a lawyer.

Gualtieri said he was told that the plan would be rolled out through a pilot program in Florida before it is expanded nationwide.

Omar Jadwat, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s immigrants’ rights project, didn’t think the plan would satisfy judges. “It’s a kind of window dressing on the same practice,” he told the Times. “It doesn’t really change the legal analysis.”

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