Oregon

Jail Policy Sets Stage For Immigrant Releases

OPB | March 29, 2013 5:29 p.m. | Updated: March 29, 2013 6:45 p.m. | Portland

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Sheriff Dan Staton may soon direct staff to release immigrants who do not pose a threat to public safety from the Multnomah County jail.

The County has historically been willing to hold immigrants for 48 hours or more, even when no criminal charges are pending, on federal requests.

Sheriff Dan Staton

Sheriff Dan Staton

Staton’s spokesman says he has made, quote, “every effort” to get clarity on some points of federal detention rules. In the absence of a clear path, he says, concerns from the community and county Commissioners led him to consider an adjustment.

Francisco Lopez, with the immigrant rights group, CAUSA, calls it a welcome compromise.

“The larger victory will be the day when Immigration and Customs enforcement stops putting pressure on local law enforcement to do their job. But this is a great first step.”

The new policy calls for holding only suspects charged with felonies or high-level misdemeanors.  Somebody who poses a threat because of violence, drunken driving, or other conduct could also be held.

The policy could be adopted at a Board meeting next week.

A statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement says the agency has already issued guidelines suggesting priority holds might be reserved for high-level offenders. The agency says it will continue to work with local law enforcement to promote public safety.

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