U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin focusing on so-called sanctuary cities in California and throughout the United States that try to prevent undocumented immigrants from being deported. However, there are concerns that ICE’s efforts will undermine the local law enforcement in those cities.
Prior to the introduction of this law, when undocumented immigrants finish serving a sentence in federal prison but were also facing minor state charges, they were supposed to be released into the custody of local law enforcement who then decided whether to hand the prisoners over to the custody of ICE. However, under the new law, ICE is supposed to have the first chance at custody rather than local officials.
One fear is that this will result in immigrant communities failing to report crime because of fear of deportation. A Yale law school dean says that local public safety may be disrupted. Furthermore, it may not be legal to hold former inmates on behalf of ICE. Without a warrant, a prison cannot hold a person after the sentence has been served. Many cities felt that they were unable to do what ICE asked as a result.
An undocumented immigrant who wishes to remain in the United States may want to speak with an attorney about the situation. Undocumented immigrants may be unacquainted with their rights, but even immigrants facing deportation may have options available for remaining in the country. Immigration law also changes rapidly and may be subject to legal challenges. For example, people who are turned over to ICE in a scenario like that described in the article might be able to argue that they were held illegally. Such a case might be argued through the court system with an eventual ruling that overturns the policy.