The White House is allegedly asking some sheriffs keep undocumented immigrants in local jails longer than is legally allowable under federal court rulings.
“If we violate the law by doing what they ask us to do, we’re subjecting ourselves, no question, to civil liability and civil rights violations,” Republican Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast.
Sheriff Gualtieri was appointed by Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) in 2011 and has been elected twice as a Republican in Pinellas County, FL.
The former attorney says that the White House has no understanding of the legal issues involved when Immigration and Customs Enforcement files "detainers" to hold undocumented immigrants until ICE can assume custody.
“My takeaway from that conversation with Stephen Miller is that he was uninformed about this problem,” Gualtieri said. “I think that there are certain admin officials who think that these warrants [detainers] solve the problem, and are saying, ‘What are you sheriffs doing? Why aren’t you cooperating?’"
Sheriff Gualtieri isn’t the only GOP sheriff worried about the illegal demands from the Republican White House.
“The current ICE detainer notion that sheriffs can and should hold alleged illegal aliens beyond the time that their local charges are adjudicated is in violation of their constitutional rights while in the United States of America, and ICE knows this,” Republican Sheriff Richard Stanek, of Hennepin County, MN in a statement provided to The Beast. “The U.S. courts have ruled against this notion time and time again – the way forward for ICE and local Sheriffs in partnership to protect public safety is a solution that both provides for public safety while at the same time protecting an individual’s constitutional rights.”
“We can’t keep doing it this way,” Sheriff Gualtieri explained. “The sheriffs are in the absolute definition of a dilemma because we want to cooperate – we don’t want criminal illegals on the street, we don’t want a Kate Steinle situation, we want people safe – but at the same time, we’re obligated to follow the law.”
Republican Sheriff Greg Champagne has sought a legal agreement from ice to protect the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Department from legal jeopardy.
“It just needs to be expedited,” Sheriff Champagne said. “They need the people to do it, they need the effort to do it. We’re a little frustrated.”
“A variety of options are under review,” ICE said in a statement, “but no final decisions or formal plans have been submitted for action at this time.”
In March, the Los Angeles Times voiced concerns by Sheriff Adam Christianson of Stanislaus County, CA. The nonpartisan sheriff was endorsed by the Republican Party of his county.
“Sheriffs aren’t going to come close to a 4th Amendment violation that is going to expose them to liability,” Christianson said.
Sheriff Christianson has since chosen to retire.