Oregon court decision adds to several cases that shed scrutiny on use of immigration detainers

The Associated Press

FILE-Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts is shown in this Dec. 12, 2012, file photo taken in Portland, Ore. A federal judge has ruled that Clackamas County in Oregon violated an immigrant woman’s constitutional rights by holding her in jail for two weeks without probable cause at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, so that the agency could investigate whether she is subject to deportation. (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Thomas Boyd, file)

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Roberts changed his policy after a U.S. District Court judge last Friday found the detainers are "requests" that do not provide the necessary legal basis for the jail to hold a person in custody after charges are resolved — and consequently, that in March 2012, the county violated Maria Miranda-Olivares' rights under the 4th Amendment by prolonging her incarceration without probable cause.

The woman, who was found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to 48 hours in jail, was incarcerated for more than two weeks due to the ICE hold, even though she was eligible for pre-trial release upon posting bail and after her release from state charges. A hearing will determine how much the county must pay Miranda-Olivares in damages.

The ruling has led sheriffs in Oregon's Multnomah, Washington, Marion and Deschutes counties to suspend the use of immigration holds. The regional jail that serves Hood River, Wasco, Gilliam, and Sherman counties will also no longer comply with ICE detainer requests.

The Clackamas County case follows a similar case in Philadelphia, where the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that state and local law enforcement authorities are not required to comply with requests from ICE to hold people on detainers without probable cause. The ruling, which involved a U.S. citizen, also recognized that states and localities may share liability when they participate in such detentions.

And in another case in Rhode Island involving a naturalized U.S. citizen, the district court issued a decision reaffirming that detainers don't justify warrantless imprisonment and allowed the immigrant's lawsuit against federal and state defendants to proceed.

"These rulings have dispelled any lingering uncertainty on whether localities can say no to ICE detainers," Desormeau said. "So jurisdictions that have been sitting on the sidelines may now act to limit their use. Otherwise, they're inviting legal liability."

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