The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office disputed on March 23 the county’s inclusion on a federal list of law enforcement agencies that haven’t honored requests to hold detainees for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Department of Homeland Security report was issued after President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January that requires ICE to report on immigrants that were released after ICE asked them to be held until they could be taken into custody by the federal agency.
About 50 other city and county jails were also included in the federal report that was signed as an executive order after Trump promised to crack down on local law enforcement agencies that fail to comply with ICE and threatening to withholding federal funding.
“Let me be very clear, on three things,” said Sheriff Rich Stanek. “First and foremost as I’ve said there is no safe haven or sanctuary of criminals anywhere in Hennepin County. Secondly the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office fully cooperates with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and all of our federal law enforcement partners to the fullest extent of the law. Third, our agency respects and protects constitutional rights of all people we interact with. This is job one for all local law enforcement, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and local law enforcement county wide.”
Hennepin County was listed on the DHS report for not cooperating with ICE on the release of two individuals, Julio Vega and Vicente Guerrero-Fernandez. Minneapolis Police arrested both individuals Feb. 1. Vega was charged with fifth-degree possession of narcotics and Guerrero-Fernandez for weapon offenses.
Stanek said ICE was notified when both inmates were scheduled to be released. Upon release, both inmates were taken into ICE’s custody Feb. 3. The HCSO released images on March 23 showing ICE agents taking Vega and Guerrero-Fernandez into custody.
“Local law enforcement does not enforce federal immigration law,” Stanek said. “We have no legal authorization to do so. If ICE wishes a person remain in custody beyond the time he or she is scheduled for release they must get a court order, must pick that person up at the time of his or her release from the jail.”
Stanek said that the county Jjail typically gives ICE 24-hour notice if the county is releasing a wanted inmate.
The HCSO does not detain anyone in jail without local or state criminal charges, or a court order. At the jail, inmates are not asked their immigration status, but only their country of origin because their consulate needs to be notified.
“All people regardless of their immigration status are brought to a jail in states are entitled to constitutional protections,” Stanek said. “We cannot hold individuals in the jail without legal authority and we must follow the law and as a sheriff the rule of law is paramount.”
“The detainer forms filed by ICE are not warrants, but merely discretionary requests,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. “We cannot comply with them because it would be unlawful detentions that could open the county to liability. Moreover such actions unconstitutionally limits a person’s liberty without sufficient due process.”
Stanek said that this report has harmed relations with the immigrant community in the county. He said that Hennepin County officials will continue to handle immigrant arrests as they have in the past and will not give into pressure on recent changes by the federal government.
Stanek wanted to assure the public that, “Hennepin County not be a sanctuary for criminals.”
Contact Paige Kieffer at [email protected]