Colorado Rights Blog


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Majority of Colorado Sheriffs Now Reject Federal Immigration Detainers

July 2, 2014

DENVER –More than half of Colorado’s 64 sheriffs have confirmed to the ACLU of Colorado that they no longer detain people past their release at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The ACLU has advocated to sheriffs since April that they act without legal authority, and face legal liability, if they rely on detainer requests from ICE as a basis to hold prisoners who would otherwise be released.

Last week, following a $30k settlement between Arapahoe County and an ACLU client who was held for three days on an ICE detainer, the ACLU of Colorado wrote the remaining sheriffs who had not yet confirmed that they had changed their prior policies regarding the holds.  More than half have thus far stopped honoring ICE’s detainer requests.

“When ICE asks a sheriff to hold a prisoner, the agency is essentially asking the sheriff to make a new arrest.  We’ve explained to the sheriffs that Colorado law does not provide them authority to make that arrest,” said Mark Silverstein, Legal Director for the ACLU of Colorado.

Arapahoe County agreed on June 18th to pay $30,000 to Claudia Valdez, a woman who called for help in 2012 following a domestic violence incident, was arrested herself, and held for three days in the Arapahoe County Jail even after a judge had ordered her release, due to a detainer request from ICE.

“Ms. Valdez’s experience underscores the damage to public safety and community trust that results when witnesses and victims of crime are made to fear rather than trust their local law enforcement,” said ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney Rebecca Wallace.

In its latest letter, the ACLU of Colorado asked sheriffs who had not yet responded to provide their current policies regarding ICE detainer requests by Thursday, July 3.

“The progress so far has been encouraging, but if any Colorado sheriffs continue to deny people liberty on the basis of ICE detainers, they are going to hear from the ACLU,” added Silverstein.

For a map showing which Colorado counties have stopped honoring ICE detainers, visit

Additional Resources:

Read the ACLU letter sent to all Colorado sheriffs in April:

Read Claudia’s Story: How a Domestic Violence Victim’s Call for Help Resulted in Three Days in Jail and Deportation Proceedings

Read the draft complaint sent to the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office prior to settlement negotiations:

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