New Phoenix Sheriff Stops Detaining Suspects for ICE

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Photo by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr

Last March, before then-presidential candidate Donald Trump was set to lead a campaign rally in a Phoenix suburb, Jacinta Gonzalez wrapped a U-shaped lock around her neck and pinned herself to a van blocking the road. Gonzalez was among a group of about 100 migrant-rights protesters staging a civil-disobedience action against against Trump’s rhetoric about Latinos and migrants. The suburb was patrolled by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, the agency led for decades by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Gonzalez was arrested that day along with other protesters. She alleged in a federal lawsuit that her constitutional rights were violated when she was detained and handed over to immigration enforcement agents, the Arizona Republic reports.

Gonzalez believes her lawsuit is behind the new policy announced Friday night by recently elected Sheriff Paul Penzone. Penzone said Maricopa County jails would no longer detain people flagged by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He said prisoners would no longer be held as a “courtesy” for ICE beyond their designated sentence for the offense they were charged with. He said his office had been advised by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office that his office faced a “threat of litigation” because of the detainment procedures used under his predecessor Arpaio. “There’s no further authority to detain an individual …” he said. “We are following our legal obligation to process that individual for release.”

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