The Trump administration on Monday issued a report identifying more than 100 local law enforcement agencies — including the Clayton and DeKalb county sheriff’s offices — that are limiting cooperation with federal deportation officers.
At issue in the report is how these local agencies are responding to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers, which are requests made to jails to hold inmates for an additional 48 hours — excluding weekends and holidays — after they would otherwise be released. This gives ICE time to take custody of the detainees and attempt to deport them.
Clayton’s Sheriff’s Office, according ICE, won’t honor such detainers unless ICE first presents a “judicially issued warrant authorizing detention.” Similarly, the DeKalb Sheriff’s Office won’t agree to these detainers unless ICE produces a warrant or “sufficient probable cause,” according to ICE.
ICE released the report Monday as required by the sweeping executive order President Donald Trump issued in January to crack down on illegal immigration. In that order, Trump vowed to cut off federal funding to “sanctuary jurisdictions,” or communities that don’t fully cooperate with ICE. Georgia state law prohibits “sanctuary policies” that restrict the reporting of immigration status information.
It’s unknown what, if any, consequences Clayton and DeKalb could face for ending up on ICE’s list. The federal agency says their appearance on the list does not automatically mean they will lose federal funding.
ICE also revealed that between Jan. 28 and Feb. 3, communities across the nation declined 206 of the agency’s detainers. None of those communities are in Georgia.
“At the end of the day, this is a public safety issue,” a senior ICE official told reporters on a conference call Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Clayton and DeKalb authorities had no immediate comment Monday. But in 2014, DeKalb Sheriff Jeffrey Mann pointed to federal court rulings that say jailing people based on ICE detainers can violate their constitutional rights.
“The law does not allow us to hold anyone without probable cause,” Mann said. “If our judicial system determines that an individual should no longer be held in custody, it is not in my authority to countermand that decision.”
That same year, Clayton Sheriff’s Maj. Robert Sowell said the agency would not “detain or extend the detention of any individual at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement solely upon the issuance of an ICE detainer, unless ICE first presents (the sheriff’s office) with a judicially issued warrant authorizing such detention.”
Clayton officials have sent a letter to the Trump administration inquiring about their county’s status.
“We’re trying to get to the bottom of this,” Clayton Commission Chairman Jeff Turner said. “We can’t afford to lose any money.”