Policy Went Into Effect on January 1, 2014, According to Official
Miami, FL - January 16, 2014 - As of January 1, Miami-Dade County is no longer prolonging the detention of people in county jail based on detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to a letter from the county Director of Corrections.
A resolution passed without opposition by the County Commission on Dec. 3 allows the county to honor certain ICE detainers only if the federal government agrees to reimburse the County for its costs.
"Until such time that a written agreement is executed," wrote Tim Ryan, Director of the county Corrections & Rehabilitation Department, in the Jan. 7 letter to an ICE official, "the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department cannot honor Detainer - Notice of Action, or similar detainers after January 1, 2014, and. . . all persons having such detainers will be released forthwith with no notification to your offices."
ICE detainers - also known as holds - are requests to local law enforcement to hold individuals in their custody beyond the time they would otherwise be released for a maximum of 48 hours, not counting weekends and holidays. ICE's failure to reimburse Miami-Dade County for most of the costs or to exercise discretion by focusing on serious criminals were some of the reasons cited by commissioners and advocates for changing the policy.
"Miami-Dade County made the right decision for its taxpayers, its police officers who serve and protect our residents, and the many immigrant communities that comprise our diverse county," said Cheryl Little, Executive Director of Americans for Immigrant Justice, one of the organizations that advocated for changing the policy.
"The new detainer policy is a significant step toward restoring the balance between enforcement and individual liberty," stated prominent Miami immigration attorney Ira Kurzban. "Mayor Gimenez, Commissioner Monestime, Commissioner Heyman, and all Miami-Dade County Commissioners deserve credit and praise for their bold positive decision."
A broad coalition of organizations came together to advocate for passage of the resolution. Now they want to make sure the Corrections Department fully implements the policy and the word gets out.
"It is important for attorneys, bail bonds agents and the community to understand the impact of the policy change," said Rebecca Sharpless, Director of the University of Miami School of Law's Immigration Clinic.
"If our criminal justice system has determined that a person in county jail is eligible for a bond, that person is able to post bond regardless of whether the jail's records show that ICE has requested a hold," added the law professor. "If people with ICE holds are having trouble posting their criminal bonds, they should tell their lawyer or ask to speak with a jail supervisor."