Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Today, the Immigration Policy Center released The Faulty Legal Arguments Behind Immigration Detainers by Christopher Lasch, Esq. In late June 2012, the Supreme Court struck down three provisions of Arizona’s SB 1070 and left a fourth vulnerable to future legal challenge. As has been well-documented, the Court’s rejection of SB 1070 tipped the balance in favor of federal enforcement and away from state and local enforcement of the immigration laws. But this essay explores a less obvious consequence of the Court’s decision: its implications for the viability of a critical federal enforcement mechanism, the immigration “detainer.”
Due to underlying legal problems, many of the “anti-detainer” measures enacted around the country are well-founded. For example, numerous municipalities—including Chicago, New York, and San Francisco—now prevent local jails from honoring immigration detainers unless an arrestee has been charged with or convicted of certain criminal offenses. However, to the extent jurisdictions believe they can selectively honor immigration detainers, they may yet be exposed to civil liability. While legally sound in resisting the notion that the federal government can impose any binding obligation on state and local officials, even selective enforcement of detainers may violate the Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).