32 immigrants freed from Phoenix-area jails after policy change

Posted: Updated:
(Source: 3TV/ CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/ CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/AP) -

More than 30 immigrants in the country illegally were freed from metro Phoenix's jails over the last four days after Sheriff Paul Penzone announced a change in one of his jail policies. 

On Friday, Penzone announced that his jails would immediately stop the practice of holding those people with an ICE detainer status for up to 48 hours because on the advice of the Maricopa County Attorney, that practice opens the county up for lawsuits.

[READ MORE: Sheriff Paul Penzone changes jail rule for immigrants]

On Wednesday, MCSO spokesman Mark Casey said 33 immigrants went free because federal authorities declined to pick them up after the inmates were release from jail on state charges. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which also has been banned from arresting immigrants inside the county's jails, says it has since arrested five of the freed immigrants.

“We believe it is ICE’s responsibility to take custody of their prisoners,” said Casey.

Penzone says issues surrounding the “ICE hold” practice was deemed unconstitutionality by several federal district courts and left him no choice but to change the rules.

[READ MOREICE responds to sheriff's new Maricopa Co. jail policy]

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said he advised Sheriff Penzone on the policy changed in order to avoid costly litigation and liability.

[Raw video: Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery news conference (Feb. 22, 2017)]

“If there is no basis, from a criminal perspective, to detain someone beyond a point in time when a state court orders release, then it's in violation of the 4th Amendment. It's pretty consistent in multiple district courts in multiple states that a state law enforcement official doesn't have the authority to hold somebody longer than it takes to process them for release under a state court order,” said Montgomery.

The County Attorney said that his office in conjunction with ICE and MCSO are working on how to establish the best relationship for effecting communication and assisting with the transfer of people once they leave state custody. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement released this statement on Wednesday:

"Last week, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) announced his office would no longer honor immigration detainers. In conjunction with the sudden reversal of a long-standing practice of honoring immigration detainers, the Sheriff also implemented a restriction prohibiting the arrest of individuals with detainers by ICE officers within the confines of the facility. Since the Friday announcement, a total of 32 inmates, who had an immigration detainer on file, have been released by MCSO back into the community, among them were individuals with criminal convictions for drug offenses, extreme DUIs, reckless driving and resisting an officer. As a result, the local Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) office realigned fugitive enforcement resources to prioritize, locate, and arrest those released as a result of the Sheriff's recently implemented directives. As of this statement, ERO has arrested five individuals who were released as a direct result of the Sheriff's change in policy.

ICE will continue to seek to collaborate with all law enforcement agencies throughout the State of Arizona, including the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, to help ensure that individuals who may pose a threat to our communities are not released onto the street to potentially 
reoffend and harm individuals living within our communities.

ON BACKGROUND:
While the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office did let ICE know they were releasing 24 out of 32 of their inmates during out-processing, they would not allow ICE to arrest them inside their jails, forcing ERO officers to monitor the parking lots for these individuals. This undoubtedly puts ICE officers in danger and places undue liabilities on ICE. Finally, the County Attorney’s Office has advised both ICE and the Sheriff that they see no legal impediment/liabilities in allowing ICE officers to effect arrests within the jail.?

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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