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GCSO Immigration Detainer Policy

Post Date:03/04/2019 9:00 AM

Official Press Release
For Immediate Release

In response to media inquiries:

The immigration detainer policy of the Guilford County Sheriffs’ Office under Sheriff Rogers is the same as it was under the prior Administration.  That policy has been the same for several years.  In fact, we previously met with members of the Immigration Rights Working Group (“IRWG”) and other local immigration activists more than 2 years ago on February 16, 2017, and described the policy of the Sheriff’s Office.  Our current policy under Sheriff Rogers remains unchanged.  This policy has been promulgated to our Deputies and Detention Officers both in writing and verbally.

Here is a description of our policy, explained by Jim Secor, Sheriff's Attorney:

The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office will accept written detainer notifications from ICE that pertain to an inmate in our custody on non-immigration related State criminal charges.  We will place the detainer notifications in the inmate’s file.  We will communicate with ICE concerning the status of the inmate’s State criminal charges (i.e., the Guilford County charges for which we are holding the inmate in our Jails).

We keep ICE informed as the inmate progresses toward a resolution of their State criminal charges and notify ICE when those charges have either been resolved in Court or if the inmate has secured his/her pre-trial release by posting bond.  That gives ICE the opportunity to take the individual into custody if the person is a repeat criminal offender.

We communicate with ICE concerning the status of these inmates for two reasons:  (1) it is a common-sense measure to keep Guilford County residents safe; and (2) Federal law requires it (see Title 8 U.S.C. § 1373).

The Sheriff’s Office does not, however, honor requests (i.e., detainers) from ICE to actually hold an inmate for up to 48 hours after the inmate’s State criminal charges have been resolved.  The reason is that the act of holding such inmates after their State criminal charges have been resolved is very likely a “seizure” for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment.  

Such a seizure would have to be supported by an arrest warrant based upon probable cause to believe the individual has committed a crime and would require confirmation by an impartial judicial official.  ICE detainers, however, are issued by ICE officials and are not reviewed by an independent judicial official.  As a result, ICE detainers are not the legal equivalent of an arrest warrant.

Accordingly, holding an individual on nothing but an ICE detainer could be construed as an illegal seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

In sum, the approach taken by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office is a constitutional and common-sense balance of Fourth Amendment protections and citizen safety.  Here at the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, we do not accept the far right position that illegal immigrants are not protected by the Fourth Amendment nor that ICE Detainers (in and of themselves) equal sufficient legal authorization to hold someone for 48 hours after their State criminal charges have been resolved.  At the same time, we do not accept the far left “sanctuary state” position which refuses to cooperate or communicate with ICE at any level.

We do communicate with and cooperate with ICE but we decline to hold someone based purely on an ICE detainer once their State criminal charges have been resolved.  This approach, in our opinion strikes the proper balance between legitimate Fourth Amendment concerns and protecting the safety of Guilford County citizens.

For more information, contact Max Benbassat, PIO at mbenbassat@guilfordcountync.gov.

Guilford County Sheriff’s Office
Office of Sheriff Danny H. Rogers


Max Benbassat
Communications Specialist
Guilford County Sheriff’s Office
400 W. Washington St.
Greensboro, NC 27401
336 641 2752 (office)
336 382 6790 (mobile)

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