ELKHART — The Elkhart County Jail will hold detained immigrants for up to 72 hours, rather than the previous limit of 48 hours, following a request from U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement, Sheriff Jeff Siegel announced Thursday.
Siegel, in a statement, said he has allowed an amendment to the existing contract with the U.S. Marshals Service to hold no more than two individuals at a time up to 72 hours.
The intention of this increase in time of 24 hours is to allow those who have been arrested for crimes, and held on a 48-hour detainer over the weekend, to be picked up by ICE, the sheriff said.
An ICE detainer is a written request that a local jail or other law enforcement agency detain an individual for additional time, typically 48 hours, after their release date in order to provide ICE agents extra time to decide whether to take the individual into federal custody for removal purposes, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU of Indiana criticized Siegel’s decision, pointing out that it is voluntary for the Sheriff’s Office to work with ICE, absent a judicial warrant.
“This type of coordination with ICE discourages immigrants – along with their U.S.-citizen children, neighbors, co-workers, and friends – from reporting crimes and serving as witnesses, creating more fear and less cooperation with local police,” the ACLU said in a statement.
According to the ACLU, ICE uses detainers to imprison people “without due process and, in many cases, without any charges pending or probable cause of any violation.”
That raises serious constitutional concerns, the ACLU said. The organization recommends that law enforcement agencies decline to effectuate any ICE detainer request absent a judicial warrant in order to minimize the risk and liability of holding a person in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Siegel said the agreement with ICE is not going to go further than the 72 hours.
“I have no intentions to hold detained individuals for Immigration Customs and Enforcement on any long-term basis and will not allow our facilities to exceed the stated agreement,” he said.
Nor would the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office increase its assistance to ICE in any other way, he said.
“My officers will not be actively seeking or pursuing individuals based on their immigration status,” Siegel said.
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