The U.S. Marshal Service is reportedly drafting a new policy significantly limiting the service's ability to hold illegal aliens awaiting pickup by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
According to The Washington Times, U.S. Marshals would not be allowed to hold aliens for ICE on the authority of an immigration warrant or detainer under the new policy. Instead, once the alien is processed, they must be released by the Marshal Service, even if ICE has asked for the alien to be detained.
Additionally, The Washington Times reports that while the policy is still in the "draft" phase, at least one jurisdiction in Florida has already implemented it as a pilot program. A memo sent to Marshals in Fort Lauderdale this summer read:
Per our management staff, effective immediately, we will NOT house a prisoner based solely on an administrative immigration detainer.
We will relay the reason that the inmate is being released from USMS custody and that the USMS cannot hold the subject beyond the standard out-processing time, nor may we transport the subject for DHS.
The memo did mention the USMS's ability to provide ICE with "a reasonable amount" of notice that they will be forced to release a criminal illegal alien. Still, considering the immigration enforcement hurdles put in place by the Biden Administration, it is unclear how quickly ICE will be able to act when notified.
ICE officers have expressed concern over the policy's impact on immigration enforcement; however, some officers said a bigger worry is that such policies would be expanded to other federal law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which detains and turns over ICE even more aliens than the USMS.
The Washington Times states that the U.S. Marshals Service HQ confirmed that it is drafting a new policy.
"The proposed updates incorporate language clarifying the agency's long-standing practice of not holding prisoners beyond a judicial order. The USMS is not authorized to hold prisoners beyond a judicial order requiring their release or the expiration of a sentence imposed," the service said.
The service didn't disclose what prompted the draft policy but said it considered the update a confirmation of current practices.
"No changes have been made to the policy limiting cooperation with ICE or any law enforcement entity," the service said.
For context, in 2018, ICE issued 177,147 illegal alien detainers. In 2019, 165,487 detainers were issued, and just 122,233 were issued in 2020 (where the number of honored detainers dropped by 26%. Unfortunately, ICE refused to publish the number of detainers issued in 2021.
In addition to Fort Lauderdale, the U.S. Marshals have followed a similar sanctuary-style policy in the nation's capital for nearly two years. This change followed a Federal Judge's ruling that the USMS does not hold independent powers to enforce immigration laws but must carry out federal courts' orders.
Because ICE is not part of the court system, and detainers are not issued under any court's oversight - the judge ruled that Marshals "cannot justify holding an immigrant based on a detainer." The court's ruling was limited to the city limits of the District of Columbia.
You can read the complete story at The Washington Times.
Updated: Tue, Sep 27th 2022 @ 1:59pm EDT