Moffat County Jail unaffected by ACLU campaign | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County Jail unaffected by ACLU campaign

Janelle O'Dea

— As of Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado successfully completed its campaign and received confirmation from all Colorado sheriff's offices that they would stop honoring illegal Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds.

An illegal ICE hold refers to a request from federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to hold a person after being cleared of criminal charges. ICE often asks for these holds when they suspect the person of violating immigration laws.

"They’re like a second arrest because the person should be released, but the sheriff is holding someone on the basis of the ICE hold," Colorado ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein said.

But the Moffat County Jail is a different story. It is a contracted holding facility for ICE and therefore will continue to honor holds requested by ICE, no matter the reason.

"In our contract, it doesn't preclude what ICE is holding them for," Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said. "I have a contract to hold them if they ask me to."

ICE pays for the Moffat County Jail to honor requested holds.

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"They (ICE) pay and provide revenue for this jail. Whether that’s right or wrong is for the public to decide," Jantz said. "They are not in our custody; I am holding them as a holding facility for ICE."

The Colorado ACLU sent the first letter to the Denver Sheriff's Office on April 21 and sent letters to all other Colorado sheriffs about a week later. By the beginning of September, they had confirmation from all county sheriff's offices, including Moffat, that policies had changed.

"We have already been working with Immigrant Rights Coalition, and the ACLU has our policy that we drafted” about illegal ICE holds, Jantz said.

Silverstein said the ICE holds were determined by three cases last spring to be a request and not a requirement from ICE.

"One of the hurdles for our advocacy was convincing sheriffs that they are requests, not orders," Silverstein said. "ICE started acknowledging that kind of quietly."

Silverstein said law enforcement agencies still can honor ICE requests, but they could be held liable for damages and doing so would go against the new policies.

Contact Janelle O’Dea at 970-875-1795 or jodea@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @jayohday.