Attorney Accuses County DAs Of Ignoring Federal Court Ruling On Detaining Immigrants

Victor Arellano Says Dane, Jefferson County Prosecutors Detain Undocumented Immigrants Even After Bail Is Posted

A recent court ruling has led to changes across the country in detainment policies. Photo: Keith Allison (CC-BY-SA).

A Madison immigration attorney says two district attorneys are ignoring a recent federal court ruling barring them from detaining undocumented immigrants for possible deportation, even after they have posted bail on criminal charges.

According to Victor Arellano, the DAs in Jefferson and Dane county are honoring federal detainment letters from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to hold immigrants charged with crimes. Arellano says a federal court ruling makes it clear such detention holds are illegal without a warrant, an affidavit, or a deportation order.

“Unless they have a judicial order, the county is violating the constitutional rights of these individuals,” said Arellano.

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According to policy changes made in 2012, ICE only detains immigrants who are convicted of felonies or are repeat offenders. Arellano says the Oregon ruling makes it clear such detainers aren’t valid for any immigrant offenders, no matter what they are charged with, unless a local judge signs an order to do so.

“Once they qualify for bail, they are done,” said Arellano. “The court has no further jurisdiction, other than monitoring the conditions the court imposes. And there is a very collective effort on the part of all these counties to keep people incarcerated without any probable cause.”

The DAs in Jefferson and Dane counties say they are not detaining anyone without probable cause.

Since the federal court ruling, county sheriff’s in Oregon, California and Pennsylvania have stopped honoring ICE detainers. Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney wrote in an email that he may be changing his policy for honoring ICE requests for detention because of new guidelines received this month from the Department of Homeland Security.