More than a dozen California counties have stopped honoring requests from immigration agents to hold potentially deportable inmates beyond the length of their jail terms, saying the practice may expose local sheriffs to liability, the Los Angeles Times reports. Counties including Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino have stopped complying with so-called ICE detainers, citing a federal court ruling in April that found an Oregon county liable for damages after it held an inmate beyond her release date so she could be transferred into ICE custody.
The California counties are among about 100 municipalities across the U.S. that have stopped the practice since the ruling, says the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, an advocacy group that is tracking the issue. Analysts say the changes could impair President Obama’s current immigration enforcement strategy, which relies on collaboration between local law enforcement authorities and federal agents. “It’s very significant because it represents a reduction of the involvement of local police in federal immigration enforcement,” said Hiroshi Motomura, an immigration law professor at UCLA. He said the Oregon court ruling had changed the long-running debate over ICE detainers. “It’s not just political anymore,” Motomura said. “It’s about liability.”