PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A civil liberties group has asked the Providence Police Department to follow the state prison system and stop honoring federal immigration detainers without a warrant.
The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sent the letter July 18 to Police Chief Hugh Clements telling him that several federal courts have ruled in recent months that the detainers issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement violated people’s civil rights, and that the department could face legal liability if it continues to honor them.
“I urge you to review the information and formally determine that the Providence Police Department will no longer honor ICE detainers absent judicial authorization,” ACLU executive director Steven Brown wrote.
It was not yet clear whether the Clements is planning to review or change the policy.
A department spokeswoman said she was checking, and Brown said they had not heard back as of Wednesday afternoon.
Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee last week ordered the state Department of Corrections to require warrants for all detainers, a change in policy.
ICE issues immigration detainers to local law enforcement and asks that the person be jailed for an extra two days so that ICE can initiate an investigation and take the person into custody.
ICE says it places detainers to ensure that dangerous criminals are not released into the community.
“When law enforcement agencies turn criminals over to ICE rather than releasing them into the community, it enhances public safety and the safety of law enforcement.
To further this shared goal, ICE anticipates that law enforcement agencies will comply with immigration detainers,” ICE spokesman Daniel Modricker said last week.
U.S. District Judge John McConnell in Providence in February found that immigration officials had no probable cause to issue a detainer for a U.S. citizen, and therefore her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures were violated.
He allowed her lawsuit against ICE and the Department of Corrections to continue.
A federal appeals court in a Pennsylvania case and a federal judge in Oregon have since made similar rulings.