ICE to use new detainer procedure starting April 2

by: Natasha Chen Updated:

SEATTLE - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Friday that the agency will be using a new form to issue "detainers" when asking local law enforcement to hold individuals past their scheduled release dates. The new form and policy will take effect on April 2.

Under existing procedures, ICE can issue a detainer when an individual is held in local custody on suspicion of a crime. The detainer is a request to the local agency to detain that person for up to 48 hours after the person’s scheduled release date, in order for ICE to investigate a civil immigration matter.

A spokesperson for ICE told KIRO 7 that the new policy requires every detainer to be accompanied by either a warrant for arrest, or a warrant of removal/deportation, which is a practice some field offices had already implemented. Both of these are administrative warrants, as opposed to criminal warrants signed by a judge. In this case, an ICE officer may sign the administrative warrant.

Sheriff John Urquhart told KIRO 7 last week that many local jurisdictions do not comply with detainers, because certain federal court cases have deemed them unconstitutional.

KIRO 7 showed Urquhart the new form taking effect in April. Urquhart said the new language is tighter and will likely require more work on the ICE agents’ part, but because these detainers are still not equivalent to a criminal warrant or criminal probable cause, it is unlikely to influence King County to change its procedures.

King County is currently among 10 Washington counties that have openly stated they do not comply with ICE detainers.

Jorge Baron, the executive director of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, agrees that this won’t change what Washington counties are doing. He told KIRO 7 that ICE can change the language and change the form, but that it does not change the underlying issue -- that there is no judicial warrant.

The new form and policy comes after U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly’s February memo, which said they were to “eliminate the existing detainer forms and replace them with a new form to more effectively communicate with recipient law enforcement agencies.”

An ICE official with the Seattle office said, “ICE officers in Washington issued administrative warrants on a circumstantial basis prior to the new detainer policy.” She said they will now comply with the new policy of issuing one each time.

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