22 Iowa jails are refusing to take immigrants into custody without the presence of a court order. Associated Press says that county prisons are refusing to accept federal immigration authority requests to bring in detainees over traffic violations or other minor infractions just because they are believed to be undocumented immigrants.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have commonly employed this practice in the past to bring detainees to county jails, and local authorities have previously obeyed without the presence of a court order. Almost 3,000 people were held in jails in the state of Iowa between 2012 and 2013, according to Syracuse University researchers, with 63% of these immigrants having no criminal record.
“They have resulted in the illegal imprisonment of countless individuals – including US citizens, lawful permanent residents and Latinos in particular – often without any charges pending, sometimes for days or weeks after they should have been released from custody,” says the immigrants’ rights and racial justice advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa, Erica Johnson.
ACLU recently wrote to the sheriffs in Iowa’s 99 counties advising them that they do not have to detain suspected illegal immigrants unless a judge has issued a court order. 22 sheriffs have since told the organization that they will no longer be accepting detainees, with the counties that have started to reject ICE requests including Linn, Story, Johnson, Polk County, Sioux and Pottawattamie.