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Homeland Security document names Chelan County among ‘non-cooperative’ jail agencies

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WENATCHEE — A new weekly federal report mandated by President Donald Trump lists the Chelan County Regional Justice Center among 47 state and local jails that refuse to voluntarily hold inmates on suspicion of being in the country illegally.

The first “Declined Detainer Outcome Report” was released Monday by the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division. The report makes note of Chelan County’s refusal to hold a suspect solely on an ICE detainer — which federal courts have ruled are an unconstitutional basis for imprisonment.

In the language of the report, jails that will not hold inmates for ICE detention and removal proceedings are labeled “Non-Cooperative Jurisdictions.” Chelan County jail director Curt Lutz could not be reached for comment Monday.

Immigration detainers, or “ICE holds,” are nonbinding requests to hold an inmate up to 48 hours beyond their scheduled release date, so that ICE agents may pick up and process inmates suspected of violating immigration visas or entering the U.S. illegally. The Chelan County jail ceased holding inmates on immigration detainer requests in 2014. 

That was the year that federal judges in multiple cases ruled that holding an inmate solely on an ICE detainer violates federal law, because it amounts to a warrantless arrest. In its decision to cease holding ICE suspects, Chelan County also noted that ICE had not paid some daily fees required to house them.

In prior years, the jail made a practice of turning over to ICE inmates facing deportation. From 2007 to 2014, the jail surrendered 1,467 inmates to ICE custody at the agency’s request, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse program, which tracks immigration enforcement. 

ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice referred questions about the report to a FAQ on the agency’s website, which states that even though jails may refuse ICE holds, “such action by the jurisdiction nonetheless adversely impacts public safety.” Trump has emphasized crimes attributed to undocumented immigrants or those illegally entering the United States, although recent studies have found that foreign-born residents commit crime less often than native-born citizens.

The ICE report covers detainer requests that were denied the week of Jan. 28 to Feb. 3. Only one such refusal is listed for Chelan County during that period; the largest number of refusals was logged in Travis County, Texas, with 142.

The report also lists the alleged home country of inmates whose detention was sought, and the alleged crimes or convictions for which they were jailed. The Chelan County inmate sought for detainer was of Mexican origin, the report says, and had been convicted of domestic violence.

The report stems from Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order on immigration enforcement within the nation’s borders, which called on Homeland Security to “make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens.”

Reach Jefferson Robbins at 509-664-7123 or . Follow him on Twitter at @JRobbinsWW. Contact him securely by PGP key.