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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: March 13, 2017 02:52 PM
From: Representative Ryan Warner
To: All House members
Subject: Amendment to Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure): State and Local Law Enforcement ICE Detainer Compliance
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation that would require state and local law enforcement agencies to comply with federal law and cooperate with federal Immigration officials. Specifically, the legislation would require state and local law enforcement agencies to comply with requests to notify federal immigration officials before the release of certain individuals as well as maintain custody of certain individuals already in their custody for up to 48 hours beyond when such individuals would otherwise be released.

Pursuant to federal law, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) – in particular, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) – may issue a detainer for an individual who is currently in the custody of a state and local law enforcement agency. The purpose of the detainer is to allow for ICE the opportunity to take custody of the individual. The state and local law enforcement agency cannot maintain custody of the individual for more than 48 hours beyond the time that the alien would otherwise be released.

Not only will this legislation promote the rule of law, it will also require state and local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with the federal government and assist the federal government in achieving success with respect to their immigration priorities. Detainers may be placed on a variety of individuals, including, but not limited to:
  • aliens who have committed specified criminal offenses or types of criminal offenses – typically aggravated felonies or two or more crimes involving moral turpitude;
  • aliens suspected of terrorist activity or other activity that endangers national security; and
  • aliens who have committed particular criminal offenses relating to controlled substances. 8 U.S.C. §§ 1226a and 1357(d).
Detainers therefore are no more than the mechanism used by ICE to take custody of individuals who the federal government has decided should not be returned to the community.

This is an issue throughout the country. However, it also is one of great concern in the Commonwealth. In 2014, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed an executive order preventing Philadelphia law enforcement from complying with ICE detainers when the Philadelphia law enforcement agency believes that the individual does not pose a serious risk to public safety. The executive order fails to take into account the federal government’s decision to place an ICE detainer on the individual. If the federal government has already determined that the individual should not be returned to the community, Philadelphia law enforcement should not have the ability to overrule the determination. Prior to the signing of the executive order, through ICE’s “Secure Communities” program, when the Department of Homeland Security issued an immigration detainer for an individual, the state or local law enforcement agency maintained custody of that individual for up to 48 hours beyond when such individual would otherwise be released.

Ignoring the federal government’s determination that an alien should not be returned to the community and releasing that alien from custody without giving the federal government the opportunity to take custody of the individual is not sound public policy. I respectfully request your co-sponsorship on this very important issue. If you have any questions regarding this legislation, please contact my office at 783-1707.

Introduced as HB1667