Demanding an apology from immigration officials, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek on Thursday disputed why his agency was listed on the first federal report publicizing jails that routinely deny requests to hold detainees.
The weekly reports, a new requirement under President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration enforcement, list immigrants released after federal immigration officials asked that they be held until Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could take them into custody. The reports specify nationalities as well as charges or convictions, but not names.
The Declined Detainer Outcome Report, released Monday, listed two Mexico natives arrested by Minneapolis police on Feb. 1 on drug and weapons offenses. The next day, ICE agents sent the jail a detainee hold. But in 2014 Stanek said that his deputies would no longer honor detainers without a judge’s order, pointing to the costs and to constitutional concerns. A series of judicial rulings dating back to that year has challenged the practice of complying with detainers.
Despite not honoring the detainer, Stanek’s office notified ICE on Feb. 3 that the men were being released from jail, and the agency arrested them, Stanek said. ICE still hasn’t explained to him why his agency was included in the report when they clearly cooperated, he said.
“The rule of law is paramount,” said Stanek. “Everybody in the jail is entitled to constitutional protections.”
Owed an apology
At a news conference Thursday, Stanek showed pictures from jail video of the two men being escorted by ICE agents. He has spoken with colleagues across the county the past few days and most agree the report is “grossly unfair.”
“I talked to ICE and they haven’t said boo about it,” he said.
ICE officials said Thursday they stand by the accuracy of the report.
Trump has vowed to crack down on noncompliant local law enforcement agencies by pushing Congress to withhold their federal funding. About 50 city and county jails appear in the initial report.
The report shows those jurisdictions with the highest volume of declined detainers, and includes a list of sample crimes associated with those released individuals, said ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer. The jurisdictions reflected in the report are ones that have — in the past — publicly expressed unwillingness to fully comply with ICE’s detainer requests or have not provided ICE with sufficient time to allow for the safe transfer of a detainee.
Stanek said the jail tries to give ICE or other law enforcement agencies a 24-hour notice if they are releasing a wanted inmate. The report said that jails don’t have to inform ICE if they won’t be honoring a detainer.
“ICE seeks cooperation from all its law enforcement partners to achieve our mutual goal of protecting public safety,” Neudauer said. “If a law enforcement jurisdiction publicly changes its policies to honor ICE detainers, ICE will revise the report accordingly.”
Neudauer said ICE often asks for detainers because of a limited amount of personnel, and job demands that span large areas, which can preclude agents from arriving quickly to certain jurisdictions. The detainer requests clearly describe the probable cause and only provide the agency the authority to hold someone for 48 hours, he said.
Owed an apology
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman helped form the county’s policy of not complying with detainers following a series of judicial rulings dating to 2014. The law was right then and it’s right now, he said.
“ICE made a big mistake and I think Sheriff Stanek is owed an apology,” said Freeman, who joined Stanek at Thursday’s news conference.
The Hennepin County jail books about 40,000 people a year. Stanek said ICE picks up only about one-third of the inmates they are notified of upon release.
Inmates are asked country of origin as part of the intake process, but that information isn’t given to ICE. The jail is required only to send fingerprints and mug shots to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which can then be accessed by other local and national law enforcement agencies.
Stanek, the incoming president of the National Sheriffs’ Association, was among a small group of sheriffs invited to the White House last month for a meeting with the new president. He said they had a wide-ranging conversation that included immigration.
When he travels to Washington, D.C., next week to meet with Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Stanek plans to discuss how to prevent future errors in the detainer report “that damage relationships in our communities.”
“I’m getting calls of concern,” he said. “I believe I deserve an apology.”