On Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) held a joint press conference in Florida with representatives of the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) and the Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA) to announce a new effort to prevent the release of criminal aliens and facilitate their removal from the United States. The initiative is a set of Basic Ordering Agreements (BOA) with seventeen Florida Sheriffs.
ICE describes a BOA as:
…an existing procurement tool for acquiring a substantial, but presently unknown, quantity of supplies or services. A BOA is not a contract, but rather is a set of terms negotiated between an agency and a service provider that contain a description of services to be provided, terms applicable to a future order between the parties, and a method for pricing, issuing, and delivering on future orders.
The BOAs with the Florida Sheriffs will provide compensation from the federal government to local jurisdictions who have agreed to house a criminal alien for up to 48 hours if ICE has issued an immigration detainer for that alien. The participating counties are Pinellas, Lee, Manatee, Bay, Walton, Hernando, Brevard, Polk, Indian River, Charlotte, Monroe, Sarasota, Columbia, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Hillsborough and Pasco.
The NSA represents over 3,000 sheriffs across the United States, and the MCSA is an association representing sheriffs whose jurisdictions have a population of 500,000 or more. Jonathan Thompson, Executive Director of the NSA spoke at the press conference and said:
Today’s agreement makes our communities, neighborhoods – and our nation – safer. Suffering will be reduced, and lives will be saved. The immigration detainer issue has been difficult and challenging. Under this new process, sheriffs holding illegal criminal aliens in their jails and prisons are afforded liability protection from potential litigation when faithfully executing public safety duties.
The liability protections Johnson referred to are necessary because of federal court rulings that opened up the possibility for counties and municipalities that honor ICE detainers to be potentially liable for civil rights violations. The Obama Administration did not challenge these rulings, nor did it clarify its reading of the relevant statutes to provide guidance to local jurisdictions on how to respond to ICE detainers. This left local law enforcement officials unsure whether the Department of Justice would support them if groups like the ACLU sued law enforcement agencies that honored ICE detainers.
Under the Trump Administration, ICE is now taking steps to ensure laws passed by Congress pertaining to criminal aliens are upheld, and that the cooperation of local law enforcement officials, essential to carrying out those laws, is welcomed and shielded from judicial activism.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri estimated the number of criminal illegal aliens in the United States at one million, and said federal statistics show that 94 percent of incarcerated criminal aliens are in the country illegally. Gualtieri believes that the percentage in state and local custody is “equally as high.”
ICE is starting the program with a limited roll out, but plans to expand it in the coming year.
One important thing to note about the involvement of the sheriff organizations. Unlike politically appointed police chiefs, most sheriffs are popularly elected and are more directly accountable to the voters they represent.
ERIC RUARK is the Director of Research for NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, Feb 2nd 2018 @ 8:10am EST