Journal of the San Juan Islands


End the abuse of civil rights in San Juan County—now | Letters

May 27, 2014 · 11:21 AM

I believe that it has been S​an​ Juan​ County policy to hold persons in local jail facilities​ even if the underlying charges are resolved or bail is posted if they are believed to be foreign born or subject to an ICE/DHS detainer.

I personally am aware of ​at least one case ​in San Juan County ​in which, at the request of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), a person was held beyond the time bail was posted for the underlying offense.

Federal courts in Pennsylvania, Oregon  ​and Rhode Island have recently decided that holding an immigrant at the request of ICE violates the Fourth Amendment rights of the detained individual, and that sheriffs and their departments may be liable for damages for holding such people past the time they would otherwise be released.

Other state legislatures (Colorado and California), governors (Maryland) and sheriffs elsewhere have enacted policies which limit the right and/or obligation of local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with ICE’s detention requests.

In Washington, Chelan, Clallam, Clark, Franklin, King, Kitsap, Skagit, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla and Yakima counties have already changed their detention policy, and other Washington counties are in the process of changing or ​re​considering their policies.

I urge San Juan County to immediately change its policy in accord with the federal court decisions because; (1) ​such prolonged detentions have now been declared unconstitutional and, (2) ​the​ county may be held liable for damages resulting from such unconstitutional detention.

I hope that San Juan County Sheriff’s Office will issue a statement of policy on this matter without further time passing, but if the county council must act first​, I request that this issue be taken up at the next County Council meeting on May 20.

Eleanor Hoague/Orcas Island


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