Tuesday, August 20, 2019

El Paso County will sue over ACLU victory on ICE holds

Posted By on Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 12:56 PM

click to enlarge Sheriff Bill Elder at a news conference last November regarding drug busts. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Sheriff Bill Elder at a news conference last November regarding drug busts.
El Paso County announced Aug. 19 it will appeal a district court judge's ruling from last December that bars Sheriff Bill Elder from holding illegal immigrants in the Criminal Justice Center at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

You can read about that judge's ruling and its history here.

But now, the county will challenge that decision, noting in a news release that its appeal "underscores how strongly both El Paso County Commissioners and the Sheriff feel that appellate courts must provide clarity."

Although the news release doesn't state which court the appeal will be submitted to, it would likely go before the Colorado Court of Appeals.

The release:

The Board of El Paso County Commissioners has directed the County Attorney’s Office to appeal an ACLU lawsuit ruling last year regarding the Sheriff’s policy of holding inmates for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The ACLU initiated the lawsuit against Sheriff Bill Elder (18CV30549) Cisneros vs. Sheriff Bill Elder.

“As a Board, we’re absolutely united and committed to pursuing appeals as far as the Courts will allow,” stated Board Chair Mark Waller. “This is about standing together for the safety of our community and doing the right thing. By the judge’s own admission, higher courts need to weigh in on this in order to provide certainty. That is why we need to follow this through.”

“I’ve been supportive of an appeal since the ruling last year,” Sheriff Bill Elder said. “I truly believe my office did the right thing by cooperating with ICE officials. I believe an appeal will show my officers acted lawfully. I sincerely hope our actions will be vindicated by a successful appeal.”

Judge Eric Bentley previously granted a permanent injunction prohibiting the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office from holding undocumented individuals under an ICE hold. After this ruling, the legislature adopted—and the Governor signed— House Bill 19-1124, prohibiting state and local law enforcement officials from arresting or detaining an individual on the basis of a civil immigration detainer request. The mere fact the legislature passed new law on the matter highlights how unsettled the legal system was when the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office was enforcing ICE holds. 
We've asked for a comment from the ACLU and will update when we hear back.

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