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Colorado Judge Rules Local Sheriffs Can't Detain People For ICE

The El Paso County Justice Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado
David Shankbone
The El Paso County Justice Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado

A Colorado District Judge has  ruled it is unconstitutional to detain inmates purely on behalf of . Similar cases have been argued throughout our  region.

Colorado is now one of  several states in the country to issue a ruling against the practice of honoring so-called “ detainer” requests. That’s when U.S. immigration authorities ask a local sheriff to incarcerate someone if there’s a question about their immigration status.

The  brought a class-action lawsuit against the  for detaining people this way. 

“We're essentially asking police and sheriffs to comply with the rule of law,” said ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein.

The district court judge agreed in a  ruling that says detaining people simply for their immigration status violates Colorado state law as well as the  Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

UC Boulder law professor  Violeta Chapin said most of the sheriffs in Colorado had stopped doing this a long time ago. Colorado’s El Paso and Teller Counties had been the holdouts.

“This opinion has made it clear that they do not have that authority either under Colorado law or under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” said Chapin.

According to Chapin, this is a big  case for Colorado, because it’s the first time the courts have found that this practice constitutes a warrantless arrest.  Chapin added that it may influence other states whose local sheriffs continue to hold immigrants past their release date.

In a written statement, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said they have not housed immigration detainees since the court issued a temporary injunction on the practice back in March, but they plan to appeal this recent ruling.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2020 91.5 KRCC. To see more, visit .

Ali Budner is KRCC's reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, a journalism collaborative that unites six stations across the Mountain West, including stations in Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana to better serve the people of the region. The project focuses its reporting on topic areas including issues of land and water, growth, politics, and Western culture and heritage.