Victories for reform advocates coming at the county level

Advocates of immigration reform were dealt a small victory Friday as two counties in different parts of the country ruled that they would no longer honor immigration hold requests. Up until this point, these requests were issued by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and had a very direct impact upon any undocumented immigrant being held in local custody.

Effectively, if ICE determined that a person being held in local custody was unauthorized to be in the U.S., they would issue a request to local authorities asking them to detain the individual until ICE could come and retrieve them. The issue that arose from this was that there existed a very real chance that the individual being held by local authorities was arrested unconstitutionally. If the authorities held them in detainment until ICE could pick them up, there would be no legal proceedings and thus no review of the validity of the initial arrest.

Napa County in California and Hennepin County, the most populated county in Minnesota, announced this week that they will no longer honor such requests. Though complying with the requests was never mandatory on the part of the local authorities, many precincts had fallen under scrutiny for the practice following the 2012 federal trial of Maria Miranda-Olivares in Oregon.

Miranda-Olivares had been arrested for violating a restraining order and was refused bail by officials due to an ICE hold. Miranda-Olivares entered a guilty plea to one of her charges and was sentenced to 48 hours in prison, but she was handed over to ICE prior to finishing her sentence. A federal judge ultimately ruled that the state had violated her rights. That ruling, though only directly involving Miranda-Olivares, proved to be a watershed victory for reform advocates by pushing for intervention of ICE detainments at the county level.

Napa joins at least seven other California counties to announce their refusal of all future ICE holding requests, and Hennepin joins its neighboring county, Ramsey, in ruling against the process.