El Paso Court Issues Permanent Injunction, Blocking Sheriff Department from Holding Undocumented Immigrants Without Warrant.
According to the ACLU of Colorado lawsuit, Sheriff Elder has unlawfully imprisoned dozens of individuals for days, weeks, and even months, without a warrant.
El Paso County, Colorado, December 7th, 2018 – The El Paso County Court issued a permanent injunction on December 6th, 2018 prohibiting El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder’s office from detaining undocumented immigrants at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) even after individuals have posted bond. In February 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Colorado sued El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder for illegally holding people for ICE – even after having paid bond, completed their sentence or otherwise fulfilled their criminal case.
According to the ACLU of Colorado lawsuit, Sheriff Elder has unlawfully imprisoned dozens of individuals for days, weeks, and even months, without a warrant, without probable cause of a crime, and without any other valid legal authority, solely on the ground that ICE suspects that they are subject to deportation for civil immigration violations.
ICE Detainer/Notification Requests are not based on probable cause and when Sheriffs decide to respect these requests they open themselves to liability. Colorado sheriffs have no legal authority to enforce federal immigration law.
Any communication between local law enforcement and ICE breaks community trust and when Sheriff Elder holds people for ICE in violation of their rights or notifies ICE of release dates this destroys the trust the Sheriffs need to do their jobs.
In response to the decision CIRC Campaigns Director, Brendan Greene, states:
“In communities across Colorado, undocumented immigrants are being targeted and separated from their families– even victims of domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking. Victims of these terrible crimes should be able to testify in court, seek a restraining order against their abuser, or report the crime inthe first place without fear of deportation.”
Sheriffs holding people without a warrant in violation of their rights or notifying ICE of release dates erodes trust community has in law enforcement agencies. Without such trust, communities fear reporting crimes or collaborating with law enforcement agencies and thus cannot make their communities safer. ICE telling Sheriffs they have the authority to hold a person, when today’s decision clearly shows they do not, is yet another example of shady practices by the federal immigration enforcement agency.
Despite Sheriff Elder’s good faith attempt to collaborate with a federal agency, federal authorities have hung his office out to dry. We call on ICE to stop their campaign of misinformation with Colorado Sheriffs. As a federal agency, ICE should be standing to help our local jurisdictions protect our nation’s constitution, not attempting to bully our local sheriffs into holding people and notifying ICE of release dates without due process or probable cause.
We applaud all Colorado sheriffs who continue to defend the Constitution and not be tricked by ICE’s misinformation campaign. We look forward to working with Sheriff Elder to repair the damage that has been done by ICE and make sure that all El Paso county residents can trust calling their local sheriffs knowing their rights will be protected.”
The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) is a statewide, membership-based coalition of immigrant, faith, labor, youth, community, business and ally organizations founded in 2002 to improve the lives of immigrants and refugees by making Colorado a more welcoming, immigrant-friendly state. CIRC achieves this mission through non-partisan civic engagement, public education, and advocating for workable, fair and humane immigration policies.