CURE Immigration Rally (copy)

Demonstrators take part in a rally for immigrant rights on June 1 at the city-county Government Center.

Recently, questions have been asked about the relationship between the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. When we hear from community members, three questions are frequently asked. Here are the questions and answers.

Is the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office honoring ICE detainers?

No. The courts have ruled local detention centers cannot hold persons for ICE for any additional time beyond which they would otherwise be released from custody. An ICE detainer is a request and not an order issued by a judge. Thus, the courts have directed local detention facilities to not honor ICE detainers. Following this decision — Orellana v. Nobles County 230 F.Supp.3d 934 (D.Minn 2017) — the sheriff’s office immediately stopped honoring ICE detainers.

How does the sheriff’s office communicate with ICE?

The sheriff’s office follows the law in all interactions and communications with ICE. The U.S. Department of State has bilateral agreements with countries that require law enforcement officials to notify consulates if someone from their country is detained in the United States. Likewise, the U.S. has the same agreements with many countries should a U.S. citizen be detained in a foreign country. As required by law, the sheriff’s office only provides the minimal amount of information to ICE.

The sheriff’s office does not hold individuals for ICE. It does not actively work with ICE to deport individuals. Sheriff’s office staff does, however, provide referrals and assistance to inmates prior to leaving custody.

Why does the sheriff’s office ask for origin or place of birth?

Every person arrested and booked into the Adult Detention Center is asked a series of questions, including their origin or place of birth. These questions are asked to inform housing decisions, comply with federal or other requirements, and reduce concerns of discrimination based on possible racial profiling. We take seriously our responsibility to safely and securely house all individuals in-custody. Again, we are diligent in making sure we follow federal and case laws during all interactions with ICE.

Last year, Olmsted County Commissioner Shelia Kiscaden and I were hearing these questions from the public. We brought together Latino community leaders to clarify that victims and witnesses to crimes should never fear Olmsted County law enforcement questioning their documented status.

For more than 10 months, we worked to establish communication, trust and understanding that public safety of all persons in Olmsted County is shared goal. No one should be victimized by persons who take advantage of concerns of deportation.

I have spent the last 32 years of my life working alongside members of the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office and our communities to make this a safe place to live, work, learn, and play. It is time to end the banter that local law enforcement will turn you in if you talk to us.

If anyone in our community—documented, undocumented, or a natural-born citizen—is being victimized, you have nothing to fear from your police officers, deputies, or state troopers. We are here to help you, and most important, keep you safe.

I support the immigrant community. As the county’s chief law enforcement officer, I assure your local law enforcement wants to build trust and work together for a safer community.

I hope we can lay to rest the legality and validity of how the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office interacts with ICE and that we can arrive at a better understanding of how we keep our communities safe.

Kevin Torgerson is the Olmsted County sheriff.

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