Thursday, September 19, 2013
A judge for the Pierce County Superior Court [official website] in Washington state ruled [order, PDF] Tuesday that local enforcement officers cannot extend detention of individuals to question them about their immigration status. Judge Kathryn Nelson reasoned that local law enforcement officers do not have the authority to enforce federal immigration laws even if they have probable cause to detain individuals for a violation of law. This is especially true when the detention was solely for the purpose of questioning immigration status. The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington State (ACLUWA) [advocacy websites] praised the recent decision as it clarifies that law enforcement officers cannot prolong a detention to question individuals about their immigration status.