LAS VEGAS -- Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie says his department will no longer hold illegal immigrants unless the federal government has a warrant. The department says the policy change is because of recent court decisions which have questioned the hold process by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
By some estimates, there are thousands of undocumented immigrants living in the Las Vegas valley. Metro Police has followed suit with cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia that have all said they will no longer honor ICE immigration holds without a warrant.
One local attorney says for illegal immigrants, it meant being housed locally at tax payers' expense, while the federal government took too long to deal with the situation.
Attorney Jerry Stuchiner is a former immigration officer that worked for the border patrol for almost 20 years.
"Very simply, it's a violation of the 4th Amendment," Stuchiner said. "There was a case in Oregon, which precipitated all of this, in April of this year, called Olivares vs. Clackamas County, where a man was finished with the State of Oregon, and ICE put a hold on him and he sat for an extra 14 days. They violated his rights, and the District Court said this is wrong."
Stuchiner says immigrants arrested for petty crimes could sit and wait in a perpetual limbo behind bars for days. He says ICE simply doesn't have the resources to handle the workload.
The end result left local police departments with housing, feeding and holding illegal immigrants, which was a liability, if something happened to the detained immigrants.
"They're responsible," Stuchiner adds. "I've had cases where my clients got sick and they were ill and seriously ill while on detainer and Metro had to pay the hospitalization fees."
Sheriff Gillespie issued this statement regarding the change:
"This change has nothing to do with me taking a stand on the immigration issue. It has more to do with a situation we've found ourselves in and this is the best thing to do until the feds figure it out."
If an undocumented immigrant commits a crime, they are punished under the law, according to authorities.
Metro Police will still turn those offenders over to ICE for their immigration status.
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