ACLU sues Teller County Sheriff over ICE deal to hold immigrants

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A Colorado sheriff’s plan to allow three deputies to perform certain duties on behalf of federal immigration authorities violates state law, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado.

The suit focuses on an agreement between Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It contends the deal violates state law that forbids local agencies from arresting or extending the detention of people suspected of being in the country illegally solely on the basis of an ICE request.

Mikesell signed the ICE agreement in January, the suit says.

Mikesell could not immediately be reached for comment by telephone.

The Gazette reports the deputies could question jailed persons about their immigration status, issue arrest warrants for immigration violations and complete immigration-related paperwork for ICE.

A law signed by Gov. Jared Polis in May bars local police agencies from honoring ICE requests to hold inmates beyond their scheduled release dates so that they can be picked up by federal agents.

The law doesn’t take effect until August.

The ACLU filed the district court lawsuit on behalf of six Teller County residents. It asks a judge to invalidate the ICE agreement and bar Mikesell from using taxpayer funds for immigration enforcement.

In December, a district court judge ruled that El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder had no authority under state law to hold people for ICE who are suspected of being in the country illegally once they have posted bond, completed a sentence or otherwise resolved their state case.

That ruling came in response to an ACLU lawsuit.

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