After weeks of pushback alleging inaccuracies, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is suspending its weekly list of law enforcement agencies it claims do not cooperate with requests to detain immigrants living here illegally.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said his office was advised Monday by ICE Regional Field Office Director Scott Baniecke that they will not publish a Declined Detainer Outcome Report for the week of Feb. 18-24, citing inaccuracies from the previous three weeks — including one Stanek publicly challenged.
Stanek is demanding an apology for what he called “a pattern of significant errors.”
“It is frustrating when the public is misled about the work of our local sheriff’s offices; as elected officials we have no alternative but to publicly set the record straight,” he said in a statement. “The men and women who work for the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office … deserve an apology; but suspending the inaccurate reporting is the next best thing.”
That apology should extend to minority communities harmed by the reports, said Stanek.
The decision to suspend the list comes less than two weeks after Stanek and other sheriffs went to Washington, D.C., to meet with Department of Homeland Security and ICE officials and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to express their concerns with the list. The sheriffs stressed they want to cooperate with ICE agents, but, “The report has to be done right,” said National Sheriffs’ Association President Greg Champagne, who attended the meetings.
“I think the meeting was big to get this fixed,” he said. “The errors were inexcusable, and Sheriff Stanek got caught up in it.”
The weekly reports, a new requirement under a President Donald Trump executive order, list immigrants released after federal officials asked they be held until ICE could take them into custody.
ICE spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez said the report was halted while the agency continues to analyze its reporting methodologies.
“The [report] has already sparked important conversations between ICE and law enforcement agencies across the nation, and the revised report will add to this discussion,” she said.
Still, Rodriguez defended ICE’s release of the weekly reports.
“ICE continues to collaborate with all law enforcement agencies to help ensure that aliens who may pose a threat to our communities are not released onto the streets to potentially reoffend …” she said. “However, in some cases, state or local laws, ordinances or policies restrict or prohibit cooperation with ICE. In other cases, jurisdictions choose to willfully decline ICE detainers or requests for notification and release criminals back into the community.”
‘Creating a sanctuary’
After the first ICE report last month included Hennepin County as a “noncooperative jurisdiction,” Stanek and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman detailed the Sheriff’s Office practices related to the detention of residents in the county illegally, explained the constitutional restrictions and highlighted inaccuracies within the report.
They pointed out the two county inmates included in the list of “Declined Detainers” section of the Week 1 report were in fact picked up and detained by ICE immediately upon their release from the jail.
“The purpose of these reports, I was told, is to shame local law enforcement into complying with what ICE believes is a legal request, but courts have ruled time and time again the request is unlawful,” said Stanek.
In the Week 3 report, ICE served 15 detainer requests to the Sheriff’s Office. Of the 15, four were picked up by ICE, one was transferred to another county, eight were released to the street because ICE elected not to pick them up, and one is still in custody facing first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.
“ICE agents pick up only about one third of the inmates they ask us to detain,” said Stanek. “We have examples of ICE not picking up inmates with a ‘Final Order of Removal,’ a history of violent crime or dozens of arrests, and even inmates who have been in ICE custody several times before.”
ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said last month that the agency 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.
Still another inmate in the report that ICE wanted detained had been booked in jail more than 40 times since 2001. He has been released to ICE five times since 2011, “but they keep letting him go and his crimes have become more aggressive,” Stanek said, adding that he hopes the man is deported.