INGHAM COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) – For years the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also called ICE, has required police to hold illegal immigrants for up to 72 hours passed their original booking date until customs officials could pick them up.
But as of today, a local sheriff’s office is taking a stand against that order…
“This comes down to the legal issue for me,” said Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth.
Until now, ICE has worked in conjunction with law enforcement to detain illegal aliens but today, Sheriff Wriggelsworth says he will not hold them any longer than he has to.
“A 21, 22, 24 hour hold on somebody on a civil issue after they’ve done their time on their state and local charges…I don’t see anywhere that will allow me to do that,” Sheriff Wriggelsworth stated.
Wriggelsworth says immigration is a complicated legal issue…one that judges and lawyers should figure out.
“Being an illegal alien is against the law but it’s not criminal, it’s a civil issue between the person and the United States government,” said Sheriff Wriggelsworth.
The decision came as a sigh of relief for Cristo Rey Church pastor Fred Thelen who says this is a step in the right direction.
“It really frees up their police officers to do more important work of ya know solving crimes and being out in the community and doing their appropriate work,” Thelen stated.
Cristo Rey Church isn’t the only one relieved of the decision…the East Lansing Islamic Center is too.
They released this statement:
“We welcome the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office’s decision not to detain anyone in custody on the basis of a “detainer request” from ICE. This principled stance respects the rights of immigrants. This is the constitutionally right thing to do and is in alignment with the principles and values of the welcoming cities we live in the Greater Lansing area.”
Wriggelsworth says although he’s made changes towards the ICE detainers protocol, the sheriff’s office will still contact ICE officials consistently to let them know release dates and times.
“We’ll let them know ‘hey they’re getting out on Thursday, you got to appear 8 o’clock on Thursday’ and then ICE will have to make arrangements to be here to take custody of that person,” Sheriff Wriggelsworth added.
ICE released a statement to 6 News in response to Sheriff Wriggelsworth’s decision. It says in part:
“The agency is deeply concerned about any policy that would limit cooperation with ICE detainers, which could ultimately result in a dangerous criminal alien being released into the community. Detainers serve as a legally-authorized request, upon which a law enforcement agency may rely, to continue to maintain custody of an alien for up to 48 hours so that ICE may assume custody for removal purposes. Pursuant to ICE policy, all ICE detainers are submitted with an accompanying administrative arrest warrant or warrant of removal depending upon the circumstances of the individual case. ICE places immigration detainers when the agency possesses probable cause to believe an alien is deportable from the United States.”
Although the sheriff understands both sides of the issue, he believes this is the best choice for the county right now and says even though the sheriff’s office will not follow the 72 hour protocol, he believes his decision will allow them to work even better with ICE.