The Denver Post reports that the Delta County Sheriff's Office has been deemed "uncooperative" by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. The article was posted to the daily's website on March 31.
While ICE may consider his department uncooperative, Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee says Delta County, and most other sheriff's offices in the state, are complying with a federal magistrate's ruling that ICE detainers are not a lawful warrant to hold an individual in county jails. "So as with the vast majority, if not all county sheriffs, we have written a policy stating we will not hold people on a detainer but will require ICE to get an arrest warrant, like any other law enforcement agency. A detainer is a form signed by the ICE officer and not by a magistrate or a judge, and that's why the federal courts have ruled them unlawful," McKee explained.
He provided a position statement issued by the County Sheriffs of Colorado, which disputes the allegation that Colorado sheriffs are offering sanctuary to illegal immigrants in their custody.
"Outside of legally recognized exigent circumstances, we cannot hold persons in jail at the request of a local police officer or a federal agent," the document explains. "To do so would violate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."
The document continues, "Sheriffs have informed ICE that in order to comply with the Fourth Amendment, we must get judicially approved holds or warrants. However, at this time, ICE chooses not to do this."
McKee said his agency does work cooperatively with ICE and a variety of other state and federal law enforcement agencies. If the subject of ICE interest is in custody, the sheriff's office will notify ICE when that individual might be released, so if ICE wants to pick them up, they can.
"Our cooperation with ICE is the same as with any other law enforcement agency in the nation," McKee said. "If they have an interest in somebody, then we'll definitely let them know when they'd be available for them to pick up and transport."
McKee said he believes the current administration will restore funding to Secure Communities, a program that automatically alerts ICE when an individual of interest is fingerprinted by an arresting agency. McKee said that program was very beneficial to law enforcement agencies.