ROCKVILLE – Due to actions by the county executive this week, Montgomery County is just one of three jurisdictions in Maryland that requires probable cause per the Fourth Amendment before honoring a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer request for undocumented immigrants being held in local detention centers.
“I have decided that, effective immediately, Montgomery County will no longer comply with ICE detainer requests except for those requests that have adequate support for a finding of probable cause under the Fourth Amendment,” said Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett.
Since 2012, 225 undocumented immigrants from Montgomery County were transferred to ICE after their local trials. Recently, Prince George’s County officials announced similar policy changes. According to statistics from ICE, the agency detained 877 undocumented immigrants since 2009. Under the decision, undocumented immigrants would no longer be held beyond their scheduled release date unless ICE can prove the person has committed a crime.
“We have been advocating for this issue for more than four years now and the legal landscape has really shifted in that time. There have been court decisions saying holding people on a detainer is a violation of their constitutional rights and we’re thrilled to see that Maryland localities are catching up,” said Kim Propeack, politics and communications senior director at CASA de Maryland.
In August, Governor Martin O’Malley announced Baltimore’s Central Booking facility, a state-run jail in Baltimore city, would no longer automatically honor ICE detainer requests for immigrants.
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler also weighed in on the issue: “If a local law enforcement officer does not have probable cause to extend custody over the subject of an ICE detainer, the continued detention likely constitutes a violation of the Fourth Amendment.”
In September, Councilwoman Nancy Navarro (D-4) asked Leggett to review the policy because the county’s policy was inconsistent with the state policy from the governor and the Office of the Maryland Attorney General.
“Governor O’Malley’s bold action and leadership should be commended,” Navarro said. “He has been a longtime champion for those without a voice in our community, particularly for our growing and substantial immigrant population. County Executive Leggett has stated that Montgomery County is a welcoming place for all people, and I concur. We must ensure that everyone’s Fourth Amendment rights are upheld, and that our policies are consistent with Governor O’Malley’s recent action, the advice of the Office of the Attorney General and the U.S. Constitution.”