Citing courts, Metro changes policy on immigration holds - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Citing courts, Metro changes policy on immigration holds

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A blue sky is seen behind the sign at the headquarters of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. (File/FOX5) A blue sky is seen behind the sign at the headquarters of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. (File/FOX5)

Las Vegas Metro police will no longer detain people solely based on an immigration detainer request from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Sheriff Doug Gillespie announced Monday.

Gillespie said officers will honor immigration holds only if there is a judicial determination of probable cause for the request, or if the hold is in the form of a warrant from a juridical officer.

"The bad ones are going to continue to be detained, and they'll be dealt with," immigration attorney Peter Ashman said.

Up until now, Metro, like other local and state law enforcement agencies, some instances would hold people who were in the country illegally for up to 72 hours, giving Immigration and Customs Enforcement time to decide how to proceed.

"Metro is taking the position that since the feds don't have it in order, we don't have it in order, and when they give us the appropriate guidelines – that it's constitutional and legal, that we know we have the right except when there's a judicial determination, or there's a warrant out. Then and only then we will detain. Otherwise, we're not doing it," FOX5 legal analyst Bob Massi said.

The change in police was prompted by court decisions that have muddied the law regarding local law enforcement holding people on these requests, Gillespie said.

"This change has nothing to do with me taking a stand on the immigration issue," Gillespie said in a statement. "It has more to do with a situation we've found ourselves in."

"I think it's another indication that Metro is trying to focus its priorities on providing the greatest amount of service to the population of southern Nevada rather than trying to work for the immigration services," Ashman said.

"The question is constitutionality. Without the appropriate probable cause, determination or warrant for their arrest, can a local police department hold these illegals legally? Is it constitutional or unconstitutional?" Massi said.

Gillespie said this decision is the best thing to do until the federal government sorts out the law. For now, Metro will wait for a directive from the federal government, which may take time.

"Is it going to chase itself up to the courts? Yeah, it probably will," Massi said.

In 2008, Metro joined a federal program with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Under that program, trained officers determine the immigration status of people booked into the Clark County Detention Center.

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