Sheriff peeved by federal shaming over immigration policy

EVERETT — A new federal report calls out the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department for its “non-cooperation” with President Donald Trump’s stepped-up efforts to round up and deport those in this country illegally.

And county Sheriff Ty Trenary isn’t the least bit pleased by what seems a public shaming of law enforcement agencies that refuse U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to detain individuals behind bars indefinitely without a warrant.

Monday’s report from the Department of Homeland Security is the first tally of which law enforcement agencies are ignoring its enforcement arm’s request for help. New reports are required weekly under Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order on enforcing the nation’s immigration laws.

“When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect the public safety and carry out its mission,” said Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan in a statement accompanying release of the Declined Detainer Outcome Report.

Trenary’s response: “That is simply untrue.”

“This unsubstantiated claim is offensive to me and the communities that I and the men and women of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office proudly serve,” he said in a prepared statement. “If ICE truly felt that these offenders were a danger to society, they would establish probable cause and seek an arrest warrant, just like any other law enforcement agency.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued 3,083 detainers in the U.S. from Jan. 28 through Feb. 3, the initial reporting period. Of those, 206 were declined, according to the analysis.

Snohomish County received 12 detainer notices, fourth most in the report. Clark County, Nevada, tops the list with 51 followed by Nassau County, New York, with 38.

While the report acknowledges “the outcome of these specific detainers is yet to be determined” it nonetheless deemed Snohomish County to be one that does not comply “on a routine basis.”

It is unclear if the number for Snohomish County is accurate. The report lacked information allowing it to be independently verified Tuesday. Calls and emails to the Homeland Security media representatives did not get returned.

Accuracy is an issue. The New York Times reported Monday that the federal agency admitted Nassau County was erroneously included.

Shari Ireton, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman, could not confirm the accuracy of the report’s figures because the department does not track how many detainers come in. They arrive by fax and are placed in the file of the person who is locked up.

There is no database because they are not charging documents like an arrest warrant. With warrants, when a person is about to be released a check can be conducted to make sure there is no entity, including ICE, with an outstanding warrant for that person’s arrest, she explained.

The federal report also contends five individuals for which detainers had been issued in Washington were released and went on to commit another crime. Three cases were in King County. All the releases occurred from Jan. 28 through Feb. 3.

Until 2014, many counties, including Snohomish, did honor detainers from immigration agents.

Snohomish County used to hold inmates up to two days, sometimes longer, after the initial charge was resolved or a person was eligible to post bail. Jails notified the federal officers before they released those inmates. That gave them time to take custody of people whose legal status was in question, for possible deportation proceedings.

But the practice ended after a federal court in Oregon ruled that Clackamas County violated an immigrant woman’s constitutional rights by holding her in jail for more than two weeks without probable cause. Similar rulings ensued across the country.

The shift in policy at the Everett jail came in May 2014 when the county’s civil prosecutors advised Trenary that he had no legal standing to incarcerate inmates based solely on detainers issued by immigration officials.

Dozens of counties around the country responded in the same fashion. Many also assured tools exist for federal agents to track and pick up individuals targeted in the detainers.

While none of this history is new for the federal agency, the report still singles out counties like Snohomish for its “policies of non-cooperation.

“I am also baffled as to why my agency would be listed as a county that has a policy of ‘non-cooperation’ as we have a clear track record of working with ICE when they are conducting a criminal investigation on one of our inmates,” Trenary said. “Since our policy to no longer honor detainer requests has been in place, ICE has produced zero warrants at our jail.”

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