Immigrants Challenge NY County’s Detainer Policy

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CN) – The Central American Refugee Center filed suit Monday over a police policy in Nassau County, New York, that requires federal authorities to be notified when an immigrant is arrested.

According to the complaint filed in Nassau County Supreme Court by Hofstra University’s Community Legal Assistance Corporation, Nassau County Police Department Policy 3610 directs officers to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement if they arrest a foreign-born person.

ICE can then direct the NCPD to hold the person for 48 hours on the basis of ICE’s own warrant or detainer, which Monday’s lawsuit contends is unlawful.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Central American Refugee Center, abbreviated as CARECEN, and Jane Doe, a 26-year-old woman who arrived in the U.S. in 2008, is a regular churchgoer and volunteer, has a GED and wants to go to college.

According to the lawsuit, New York criminal-procedure law says an officer is only allowed to make a warrantless arrest if there is reasonable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.

Doe claims that NCPD’s policy unlawfully allows officers to take people into custody based solely on an ICE warrant or detainer.

Challenging the policy, Doe says in her complaint that “illegal presence by an immigrant in this country is not a crime because it is neither a felony nor a misdemeanor.”

The lawsuit states that foreign-born people make up almost a quarter of Nassau County’s total population.

“Jane Doe is at risk of unlawful arrest under Policy 3610,” according to the complaint filed by lead attorney Stefan H. Krieger of the Community Legal Assistance Corporation.

If Doe were arrested, she says she would have to pursue her asylum claim from detention, and such claims are statistically less successful.

“Policy 3610 puts the immigrant population that CARECEN serves in Nassau County at risk for unlawful arrests because members of that community can be arrested or held in detention beyond the time they would otherwise have been released based on an ICE warrant or detainer,” the complaint continues.

Nassau County attorney Carnell Foskey, CARECEN staffers Patrick Young and Elise Damas and the Community Legal Assistance Corporation could not be reached for comment at the end of the business day Monday.

The lawsuit comes as the Trump administration takes special aim at Long Island to knock out the MS-13 gang, which has committed several high-profile murders there. President Donald Trump has commended ICE and their “rough” methods.

However, ICE tactics have come under increased scrutiny by news organizations and human-rights groups as the administration cracks down on immigration. The American Civil Liberties Union has been pressing the issue since at least 2011, saying immigration detainers have “raised serious constitutional concerns.”

The detainer policy on ICE’s website states, “When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission.”

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