The ACLU of Colorado sued Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell alleging that he is violating Colorado law by continuing to jail an individual who is eligible for release, at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Leonardo Canseco is charged with two misdemeanors, and the Teller County Court set his bond at $800. According to the lawsuit, the Sheriff is acting on a detainer request from federal immigration authorities, who suspect that Canseco is removable from the country.
ACLU of Colorado successfully challenged the legality of ICE detainer requests earlier this year in a class action lawsuit asserting that El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder had unlawfully imprisoned dozens of individuals at the request of ICE. In March, District Court Judge Eric Bentley ordered Sheriff Elder to release two ACLU clients and to stop relying on ICE detainer requests as grounds for refusing to release individuals when they post bond or resolve their criminal cases.
In 2014, ACLU of Colorado wrote to Colorado sheriffs explaining that when they hold a prisoner on the basis of ICE detainer requests, they are making a new arrest without legal authority. ACLU of Colorado then negotiated a $30,000 settlement with Arapahoe County on behalf of Claudia Valdez, a domestic violence victim who was held for three days after a judge ordered her release because the jail honored an ICE detainer request.
Within a few months, every Colorado sheriff receiving the ACLU letter declared that they would not hold prisoners for ICE without a warrant signed by a judge. The County Sheriffs of Colorado issued a statement in which it explained that sheriffs have no authority to do so. By the end of 2016, more than 500 state and local law enforcement agencies around the country were declining to hold prisoners on the basis of ICE immigration detainers and ICE administrative warrants.
The ACLU lawsuit, filed in Teller County District Court, seeks a declaratory judgment and an emergency order ensuring Canseco’s release. Canseco is represented by Silverstein and Jahanian of the Colorado ACLU and Byeongsook Seo and Stephanie Kanan of Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.
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