Crime & Courts

County jail to start holding illegal immigrants longer, sheriff says

Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said the jail will start holding inmates suspected of being illegal immigrants for an extra 48 hours thanks to a change in paperwork it receives from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said the jail will start holding inmates suspected of being illegal immigrants for an extra 48 hours thanks to a change in paperwork it receives from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Eagle file photo

The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday it is now honoring requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain people suspected of being illegal immigrants for up to 48 hours beyond when they otherwise would have been released.

ICE is now providing a new form to the sheriff’s office when it asks the jail to hold an inmate for the two extra days. The form, called an I-200, is a federal warrant for the arrest of a person thought to be committing immigration violations.

Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said it meets the jail’s requirement of law enforcement to provide a statement or document of probable cause when they want an inmate held.

“Every law enforcement agency – federal, state and local – has to provide a probable cause statement for the sheriff’s office to hold somebody,” Easter said during a news conference Tuesday at the Sedgwick County Jail, 141 W. Elm.

The decision to honor the requests marks a shift in a policy in place since 2014. That year – following a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in a Pennsylvania case – the sheriff’s office began refusing to hold suspected illegal immigrants for the additional 48 hours for ICE over concerns that doing so would open the jail to lawsuits.

Since then, the sheriff’s office has been meeting with ICE officials and asking the agency to provide a probable cause document with 48-hour detain requests. The jail also looked into becoming an ICE holding facility to alleviate the issue, Easter said.

“We are happy that this has finally been resolved to the point where we believe we can honor those detainers with that probable cause affidavit, because that was the crux of the issue since 2014,” Easter said.

He added: “As of today, the sheriff’s office will honor all ICE requests accompanied by a probable cause affidavit.”

Easter said right now, ICE has asked for the extended holds only on people who are already in custody at the jail on suspicion of crimes committed in the community. Five inmates at the Sedgwick County Jail had such holds on Tuesday, he said.

Asked whether the change would increase costs for taxpayers, Easter said: “There could be a little bit increase, but we’re only talking 48 hours, not months.”

Easter reiterated Tuesday that local law enforcement agencies cannot enforce federal immigration laws.

“We can’t go out and pick up people that are illegally here in the United States,” he said.

But, he said, if ICE chooses to make arrests on a person’s immigration status alone, the jail will accept those inmates as long as ICE provides a probable cause statement or document. Previously, people were not booked into the jail strictly because ICE thinks they are illegal immigrants.

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker

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