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Report Exposing US Sanctuary Jurisdictions Halted for Methodology Review

  • Aline Barros

FILE - People hold anti-deportation signs during a rally, March 9, 2017, in New York. The rally was held in support of Ravi Ragbir, leader of the New Sanctuary Coalition, and an immigrant from Trinidad, who may face deportation.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will temporarily halt the release of its report documenting the failure of some local law enforcement agencies to help federal immigration authorities apprehend undocumented immigrants.

The weekly declined detainer outcome report was mandated in President Donald Trump's executive order, "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States," to expose cities and counties that choose not to cooperate with federal immigration agents, especially self-styled sanctuary jurisdictions.

But now, after the release of one such report, DHS says it will review its methodology.

DHS issued corrections Monday on the detainer report from January 28 to February 03 that incorrectly denounced counties that had refused to cooperate with immigration enforcement authorities. These locations include Franklin County, Iowa; Franklin County, New York; Franklin County, Pennsylvania; and Montgomery County, Iowa.

DHS said the mistake happened “due to a data processing error.”

“Additionally, detainers that appeared as being declined by Williamson County, Texas, and Bastrop County, Texas, were cases where the individual was transferred to another facility where they were released,” according to a DHS statement.

Time needed to ‘analyze and refine’

Sarah Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for ICE, told the New York Times that this temporary suspension would grant the agency time to “analyze and refine its reporting methodologies.”

The Rev. Annie Steinberg-Behrman (right) provisional pastor with Metropolitan Community Church, holds a sign while listening to speakers at a meeting at City Hall in San Francisco to reaffirm the city's commitment to being a sanctuary city, Nov. 14, 2016.
The Rev. Annie Steinberg-Behrman (right) provisional pastor with Metropolitan Community Church, holds a sign while listening to speakers at a meeting at City Hall in San Francisco to reaffirm the city's commitment to being a sanctuary city, Nov. 14, 2016.



Detainers are immigration holds that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issues on individuals the agency is seeking to deport.

The website also says detainers that seemed to have been declined by Chester County, Pennsylvania, and Richmond County, North Carolina, were in fact immigration holds wrongly issued to these locations.

“The subjects of those detainers were in different locations,” DHS said.

The now corrected report was initially released on March 20 and showed more than 200 jurisdictions refusing to honor ICE detainer requests.

Also read: New Government Report Aims to Expose Sanctuary Jurisdictions

Immigration holds or detainers have been a controversial topic as sheriffs’ departments have become increasingly skeptical about the legality of these requests.

Also read: Local US Officials Question Legality of ICE Holds

The practice has raised constitutional concerns among local enforcement and rights groups that have said ICE uses detainers as a way to hold people for 48 hours without due process of law and, in many cases, without any charges pending or probable cause of any violation.

The National Immigration Law Center estimates there are 600 sanctuary cities and counties, as well as some states.

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