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Las Vegas police to end federal immigration holds

Updated October 23, 2019 - 1:50 pm

The Metropolitan Police Department will no longer detain immigrants on federal immigration holds, the agency announced Wednesday.

Metro on Tuesday notified U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that it was suspending their agreement.

According to a news release, the decision comes following a California court ruling that ICE “is enjoined from issuing detainers to state and local law enforcement agencies in states where there is no explicit state statute authorizing civil immigration arrests on detainers” and from “issuing detainers based on probable cause, when the investigation of immigration status and removability consists of only a database search.”

This decision expanded upon a similar decision earlier this year. In December, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo directed corrections officers to stop placing immigration holds on undocumented immigrants with low-level traffic bench warrants.

At the time, Metro planned to continue notifying ICE about undocumented individuals accused of more serious offenses, those with significant criminal histories and those who have been deported multiple times.

Now that the department’s partnership with ICE has been suspended, Metro will only notify ICE in cases of violent crimes.

Sherrie Royster, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, said she is “ecstatic to see that they made the right decision.”

Royster said the ACLU of Nevada sent a letter to the Metropolitan Police Department on Oct. 11, demanding that it stop its partnership with ICE. She said they mentioned the California ruling, which she was happy to see referenced in Metro’s statement Wednesday afternoon.

“Nobody should be worried about forgetting paperwork on their way out of the house and being detained,” she said. “It’s not the hardened criminals they were detaining; it was regular people who were pulled over for a busted tail light or blinker.”

Royster said the ACLU met with many people in Southern Nevada who were afraid to call Metro for help because they were worried they’d be detained, and she expects to see that fear diminish now.

Lombardo said in the release that he is “optimistic that this change will not hinder LVMPD’s ability to fight violent crime.”

“While the ruling can be seen as a setback,” he said, “I am determined that through cooperation with our federal partners the goal of removing the worst of the worst can still be accomplished.”

Contact Alexis Egeland at aegeland@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0335. Follow @alexis_egeland on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Rio Lacanlale contributed to this report.

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