Frederick County files Cert Petition Regarding Ability to Detain Illegal Aliens on Warrants


December 9, 2013

Frederick County, Frederick County Sheriff Jenkins, and two deputies have asked the Supreme Court to review a Fourth Circuit opinion which held that state officers may not detain an alien pursuant to an immigration warrant.

The case involves two sheriff’s deputies who happened upon the plaintiff, Santos, and began speaking with her. The deputies asked Santos for her identification which she stated she had none. The deputies began talking to themselves and few moments later Santos presented an El Salvadoran identification card. The Deputies contacted dispatch to run a warrant check. Dispatch found that Santos had a deportation warrant and dispatch contacted ICE to verify that the warrant was active and that ICE wanted Santos detained. Prior to receiving a response from ICE, Santos attempted to leave and the deputies gestured toward her. Shortly thereafter, ICE responded to dispatch that the warrant was active and that ICE wanted Santos detained. The sheriffs then arrested Santos at the request of ICE. ICE subsequently filed a detainer instructing the detention center to detain Santos for ICE.

The Fourth Circuit held that the brief time between the deputies contacting ICE to verify the warrant and ICE’s response to the Deputies violated the Fourth Amendment because the Deputies were preempted from arresting Santos for a “civil” immigration violation. The Petition points out that this decision is part of a broad, multi-circuit split regarding the authority of state and local officers in enforcing immigration laws. In 1982, the Tenth Circuit held that officers had general investigatory authority in enforcing the nation’s immigration laws. In 1983, the Ninth Circuit “assumed” that state officers were preempted from enforcing the “civil” provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Petition also argues that the Fourth Circuit Opinion is in conflict with Arizona v. United States in many ways.

IRLI expects a decision on whether the Court will review the case sometime in January. The case is Frederick County v Santos, Petition No. 13-706. IRLI’s Petition and Reply are attached here and here.

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