Bexar County Lawsuit Challenges Constitutionality Of Immigrant Detainers

A Mexican immigrant, who was being held at the Bexar County Jail, is suing the sheriff.

By Ryan E. PoppeSeptember 8, 2016 9:32 am, , ,

From Texas Public Radio

The door to the central booking unit at the Bexar County Jail slides across the floor slowly and then quickly slams shut once someone being detained makes it across the threshold.  That’s what 36-year-old Julio Trujillo experienced when he was booked into the jail on a misdemeanor assault charge in January.

Trujillo is a Mexican immigrant, who after serving some time in jail had his charges dropped.  Federal Immigration and Customs officials, who routinely examine the jail’s inmate database, asked Bexar County to hold Trujillo for a potential immigration violation just before his release.  It’s an agreement set up between local sheriffs’ departments and the federal agency that generally is for two days.

But Trujillo’s Attorney Lance Curtright says his client was held in the Bexar County Jail for more than two and half months without probable cause, a warrant or a federal judge’s order.

“So from March 24th of 2016 until June of 2016, he was left to languish in the county jail without a bond, without any judicial review, without any access to due process to law whatsoever.  You can’t hold someone without giving them just basic process of law, including the right to see a judge, including the right to request bail,” Curtright explains.

Curtright specializes in immigration law.  He says while the system is supposed to flag immigrants wanted for pending felony criminal investigations, often it is that the person being detained is simply suspected of being in the country illegally.

“A lot of these individuals don’t have any criminal warrants on them whatsoever.  The thing about the ICE hold is, and I think this is important for people to understand, is that ICE deportation proceedings are not criminal events, these are civil proceedings,” Curtright says.

Curtright says Trujillo is aiming for a federal judge to permanently ban the use of these federal immigration detainers by ICE agents, which would impact county jails all across the nation.

Read more.