ICE Calls MCSO Policy Change On Detentions 'Unfortunate'

By Jimmy Jenkins
Published: Monday, February 20, 2017 - 4:53pm

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is changing the way it works with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The policy change came after a consultation with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

Previously, if ICE flagged a detainee in the Maricopa County Jail system as a potential immigration offender, MCSO would hold the individual as a courtesy to the federal agency for 48 hours after their court-ordered release.

Sheriff Paul Penzone said he was advised by the County Attorney’s Office to stop the policy on Friday.

The County Attorney’s Office conducted a survey of court cases around the country before coming to the conclusion. In a statement, the Attorney’s Office cited a Texas case where the judge ruled county officials could not hold immigration offenders in custody after they were ordered to be released under state law.

In a statement, ICE spokesperson Yasmeen Pitts O'Keefe called the policy change "sudden" and "unfortunate."

"MCSO has implemented a policy which will undoubtedly result in dangerous criminal aliens being released to the street to re-victimize the innocent citizens of that community," Pitts O'Keefe said. "Additionally, the new policy puts ICE officers at a higher risk as more fugitive operations teams will need to arrest criminal aliens outside of the secure confines of the county jail."

Penzone said MCSO will continue the process of courtesy notifications, and ICE will still have the opportunity to take custody of individuals upon their release from the county.