Due to court decisions in the recent past and presidential executive orders issued in January, and the confusion surrounding the label “sanctuary” counties or cities, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office felt it is necessary to fully explain this complicated issue.
In 2014, there were two cases heard in the 3rd and 9th U.S. Court of Appeals regarding Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers.
▪ Galarza v. Szalcsyk stated a federal detainer violated the anti-commandeering principle of the 10th Amendment. As a result of this lawsuit, the city of Allentown, Pa., and Lehigh County paid Galarza $145,000.
▪ Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County stated Ice detainers lacked a probable-cause statement and were only requests. Clackamas County in Oregon paid $30,100 plus legal fees.
▪ In September 2016, Moreno v. Napolitano stated ICE could no longer issue detainers in the Chicago office of ICE. This office includes Kansas. This ruling was due to no probable-cause statement.
With the exception of ICE agents, every law enforcement officer who books a person into the Sedgwick County Detention Facility has to provide a probable-cause statement that outlines what federal, state or local law the person has allegedly broken, as well as the reasons why the officer thinks they broke that law.
The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office honored detainers up to the additional 48 hours, which had been deemed illegal. This policy caused the Center for Immigration Studies to label Sedgwick County as a “sanctuary.” This website is operated by an independent research group. The term “sanctuary county” has never been defined by the courts or in law.
In 2015, we discussed with ICE the potential of being an “under 72 hold” facility. This would allow us to hold criminal aliens. We did not hear back from ICE until January 2016.
On Feb. 14, 2017, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office changed its position and is now complying with the 48-hour ICE detainer request. This change was precipitated by ICE now providing a probable-cause statement along with the request to detain. This is what we had asked for in 2014 and has now been mandated by a federal judge validating our continued requests.
On March 31, we contacted the Kansas City ICE sub-office, and it confirmed we are now in compliance and should not be classified as a sanctuary county.
Illegal Immigration is a complicated issue that we have been in the forefront of trying to resolve from a local level. Our hope is that this brief description of what has occurred in the past four years clears up any misunderstanding or confusion on what the law requires.
Jeff Easter is sheriff of Sedgwick County.