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TELLER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — A district judge has ruled that the Teller County sheriff has legal authority to jail people on behalf of federal immigration authorities.

The American Civil Liberties Union had sued the county sheriff’s office over its cooperation with federal immigration authorities, arguing that it violates state law. A district court on Wednesday ruled otherwise.

“This ruling allows me to continue to protect and serve this community,” Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell said in a statement. “We will continue to fight for our community,” he added. “I don’t believe in giving ground or backing down to those who would attempt to bully us into inaction.”

The ACLU said it plans to appeal the ruling.

“We remain steadfast in our claim that this program violates state law,” the ACLU said in a statement. “Law enforcement should serve our communities, not anti-immigrant agendas,” the group added.

Federal immigration cooperation legal: judge

District Judge Scott A. Sells issued the ruling on Wednesday.

At issue is the Teller County sheriff’s participation in a program known as 287(g). Through the program, state and local law enforcement agencies can arrest people on behalf of immigration authorities, and they can detain inmates past their scheduled release so federal agents can pick them up.

The judge ruled that the sheriff can legally enter into the agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, despite a 2019 state law that bars such cooperation.

Sells wrote that the immigration detainers are “not a request,” as they’re defined in the state law, but “a valid federal arrest warrant,” and that deputies who act on them are “de facto federal officers” when they work under 287(g).