El Paso County Sheriff Can No Longer Hold Inmates At ICE’s Request, Judge Rules

December 7, 2018
Photo: Marijuana Black Market Busts 3 | El Paso Sheriff Elder - REstarbook
El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder.

A state judge ruled it is unconstitutional for El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder to hold jail inmates at ICE’s request after they have posted a bond or served their sentence..

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado sued Elder, alleging he didn’t have the authority under state statutes to enforce federal immigration laws.

Elder was holding some undocumented inmates for up to 48 hours after their criminal case was resolved to give ICE officials time to get to the El Paso County jail.

Judge Eric Bentley issued a permanent injunction and wrote in his opinion that continued detention constitutes a “new arrest”. He also said that Colorado statutes don’t permit sheriffs to house federal prisoners in county jails.

El Paso County officials say they are digesting the ruling and will decide within a week whether to appeal to Colorado’s appellate court. They had no further comment on Friday.

Mark Silverstein, the ACLU’s legal director, called the ruling important and exhaustive, and believes it should carry weight with other sheriffs across the state.

“It is such a thorough and detailed ruling, I think it would be very persuasive for all but the most recalcitrant sheriffs,” he said.

Silverstein has also sued the Teller County sheriff for holding inmates at ICE’s request. That case was in front of a different judge earlier this year, one who declined to immediately halt the practice. The case continues to wind through state court now.

On Friday, a spokesman for Teller Sheriff Jason Mikesell said he was going to read the 31-page ruling over the weekend and decide whether it would affect his own ICE practices.

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