This Sheriff Was Sued for Cooperating With ICE. Now, He’s Vindicated.
What should we do with
illegal aliens who break local criminal laws?
Most people would agree
that, once they’ve served their time, they should be removed from the country
rather than sent back into the community where they can commit more crimes.
But the Legal Aid
Justice Center of Falls Church, Virginia, disagrees. So when Culpeper County
Sheriff Scott Jenkins turned Francisco Guardado Rios over to the Department of
Homeland Security, the center filed a class action lawsuit against the sheriff,
claiming his actions violated the Fourth and 14th Amendments to the
Thankfully, a federal
judge has now thrown out that suit. Here’s how it went
In August of 2017, Rios
was arrested for driving without a license and contributing to the delinquency
of a minor. The Culpeper County Jail then received a detainer from U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement and an administrative arrest warrant for Rios
from the Department of Homeland Security, as there was “probable cause to
believe Rios was a removable alien.”
The detainer asked the
jail to notify ICE at least 48 hours before Rios’ release, and requested that the
jail also maintain custody of the alien “for a period NOT TO EXCEED 48 HOURS
beyond the time when he/she would otherwise have been released from custody to
allow [the Department of Homeland Security] to assume custody.”
administrative warrant directed immigration officers to arrest Rios and take him
into custody “for removal proceedings under the Immigration and Nationality Act.”
Rios was convicted of
contributing to the delinquency of a minor. After serving his sentence in the
Culpeper County Jail, he was held for an additional two days by Jenkins before
being turned over to ICE agents.
Rios claimed that being held in custody after completing his sentence violated his constitutional rights. He alleged that Jenkins had held nearly 100 other illegal aliens past their release dates in 2017 and 2018, based on ICE detainers.
Senior District Judge
Glen E. Conrad ruled, however, that Jenkins acted lawfully in cooperating with Homeland
A key factor was the
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2013 ruling in Santos v. Frederick County
Board of Commissioners. The court held
that state and local authorities can’t arrest or detain an illegal alien based
solely on an immigration charge “absent federal direction or
The judge noted that Rios
was arrested for committing a local crime, not an immigration violation, and that
Homeland Security had, indeed, provided the sheriff with specific “federal
direction” and “authorization” to detain him.
Further, he observed
that no federal court of appeals has “held that it would violate the Fourth
Amendment to comply with an ICE detainer and administrative warrant.”
Rios’ lawyers argued
that Culpeper County could not comply with a detainer warrant because it had no
written agreement with Homeland Security (such as exists under the 287(g)
program) to do so. Under the 287(g)
program, local law
enforcement can enter into a “memorandum of agreement” with the Department of
Homeland Security to assist the agency in identifying and detaining illegal
aliens. Homeland Security then provides
training and other resources to the local agency.
But Conrad rejected that
argument, too. Even without a written agreement, he said, “local law
enforcement officials may cooperate with ICE in the detention or removal of
aliens not lawfully present in the United States … when such cooperation is
expressly ‘request[ed]’ or authorized by ICE.”
Further, Conrad stated,
Rios and other detained illegal aliens have no claim under the 14th Amendment
because “the due process clause is not the proper lens through which to
evaluate the validity of Rios’ continued detention at the request of ICE.
‘Compared to the ‘more generalized notion’ of due process, the Fourth Amendment
‘provides an explicit textual source of constitutional protection.’”
Rios’ final claim was
that he was “falsely imprisoned in violation of Virginia law.” Because Conrad
held there was no federal cause of action, he declined to exercise jurisdiction
over this state law claim. Instead, he
dismissed that claim without prejudice, meaning that Rios can file a new lawsuit
in state court making that claim, if he wishes to do so.
local jurisdictions refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities,
they create de facto sanctuaries for criminals like Francisco Guardado Rios. It
makes no more sense to release those aliens back into the community than it
would make sense to release a convicted criminal who is a U.S. citizen, but who
is wanted in another state or by federal authorities.
Sheriff Scott Jenkins, job no. 1 is safeguarding the citizens of Culpepper
County. Providing sanctuary to criminal illegal aliens isn’t in the job