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Featured Issue: Detainers

The handling of civil immigration detainers by local law enforcement agencies has gained national attention after the tragic shooting in July 2015 of a woman in San Francisco by an undocumented man. San Francisco is among hundreds of localities that have adopted policing strategies that limit involvement with federal immigration agencies, to preserve public trust and confidence in law enforcement that are essential to maintaining community safety. Legislation is being introduced, at both the state and federal level, which will undermine public safety by threatening these so-called "sanctuary cities."

In November 2014, the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) was established as part of President Obama's 2014 Executive Action. The program replaced Secure Communities, which was under attack for years due to its negative impact on community policy, susceptibility to racial profiling, and indiscriminate approach to immigration enforcement. Through PEP, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hopes to work with local law enforcement agencies. Many details of PEP and how it will be fully implemented are still unclear.




Opposition to S. 3100 and S. 2193


Opposition to S.2146, S. 1814, and H.R. 3009


AILA Resources


Additional Resources


Priority Enforcement Program


Legal Matters

  • Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County (U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon) The court agreed with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that detainers are not mandatory. The court further found that the county violated the Fourth Amendment by holding Ms. Miranda-Olivares solely on the basis of the detainer, without determining whether it had probable cause to detain her. (April 11, 2014)
  • Galarza v. Lehigh County (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit) The court held that immigration detainers are nonbinding, voluntary requests. Lehigh County "was free to disregard the ICE detainer." The suit involved a U.S. citizen who was held in Lehigh County Prison for 3 days on a detainer after posting bail. (March 3, 2014)
  • Morales v. Chadbourne (U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island) U.S. citizen plaintiff held in state correctional facility for 24 hours on a detainer survived motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim against ICE officials and state officials for Fourth and Fifth Amendment violations. (February 12, 2014)
  • Villars v. Kubiatowski (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois) The court agreed with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that detainers are not mandatory. The court further found that Villars, who was held on a detainer after posting bail, had successfully stated a claim against police and county defendants for detaining him without probable cause under the Fourth Amendment as well as procedural and substantive due process violations, noting that local officers generally lack authority to arrest individuals suspected of civil immigration violations. (citing Arizona v. U.S.) (May 5, 2014)

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 11113063.