The Trump administration is working with cooperative sheriffs on a plan to channel illegal immigrants from local jails into federal detention, the New York Times reports. If it succeeds, it could vastly expand the dragnet that has already begun to transform immigration enforcement. The plan is intended to circumvent court decisions that have limited the role of local law enforcement in immigration. It involves a legal move with detainers, which are requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to local sheriffs or police to hold people who are suspected of being in the U.S. illegally, even after they have posted bail, finished their jail sentence or otherwise resolved their criminal cases.
Some sanctuary cities refuse to honor detainers on ideological grounds. A larger number of sheriffs who otherwise support the Trump administration have turned down detainers because courts have found that they violate the Fourth Amendment. The legal move, in which sheriffs would serve as contractors for ICE, is intended to protect sheriffs from such court battles, which have sometimes resulted in costly payouts. Some legal advocates for immigrants expressed doubt that courts would view it as being different from current practices. The tactic would be a major step toward marrying local and federal law enforcement, a centerpiece of Trump’s plan to thwart illegal immigration. If enough sheriffs participated, the approach could lead to many more immigration arrests, which have risen more than 40 percent since last year. Since Trump was inaugurated, ICE has issued 11,000 detainers a month, a 78 percent increase over the previous year.