County-level victories for immigration reform advocates

US flagImmigration reform advocates were given a minor victory on Friday when two countries in separate parts of the United States decided they would no longer be honoring immigration hold requests.  The requests, which are issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have previously had a big impact on undocumented immigrants held in local custody.

ICE had the power to decide whether a person being held in local custody was authorized to be in the United States and could ask the local authorities to detain unauthorized individuals until it could retrieve them.  This led to the very real problem that the individual concerned could have been arrested unconstitutionally by the local authorities and that the validity of the initial arrest would not be reviewed if the individual was then picked up by immigration authorities.

Hennepin County in Minnesota and Napa County in California last week announced that they are no longer going to be honoring these ICE requests.  Compliance with the requests has never been mandatory for local authorities, and many precincts have come under close scrutiny since the trial of Maria Miranda-Olivares in 2012 in Oregon.

Miranda-Olivares had been placed under arrest for having violated a restraining order and was refused bail as the result of an ICE request.  She pleaded guilty to one charge; however, after being sentenced to 48 hours in jail, she was picked up by ICE in a move that a federal judge decided had been a violation of her rights.  A total of eight other counties in California and Minnesota have already decided against honoring future requests.