Claudia Valdez called Arapahoe County Police in July 2012, when a domestic dispute with her husband turned physical. When law enforcement arrived on the scene, they arrested Valdez and took her to jail. After her husband admitted in court the next morning that he had been the aggressor, a judge ordered Valdez’s release. Rather than release Valdez, the Arapahoe County Sherriff’s Office held her for three additional days in compliance with a detainer request from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Immigration detainers (also called “ICE detainers” or “ICE holds”) are routinely issued by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). They ask sheriffs to continue imprisoning a person for up to five days past the time when the person would otherwise be released, so that ICE can decide whether to take that person into federal custody for a possible immigration violation. Deportation proceedings are civil, not criminal, cases. Remaining in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws is not a crime.
The ACLU of Colorado argued in a letter sent in April 2014 to all Colorado sheriffs that they act without legal authority, and face legal liability, if they rely on ICE detainer requests as a basis to hold prisoners who would otherwise be released.
After learning about Claudia Valdez’s detention on an ICE detainer, the ACLU of Colorado sent a draft complaint to Arapahoe County. Within a few weeks, the county agreed to an out-of-court settlement of $30,000 to compensate Valdez for her detention.
Valdez has lived in Colorado for 15 years, has three U.S. citizen children and no criminal record, yet she faces deportation proceedings as a result of her arrest and detention in 2012.
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