PHILADELPHIA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania released a statement today in response to United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement on Monday that municipalities violate federal law when they do not honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which are issued by the executive branch without review by a court. The following can be attributed to Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:

“Attorney General Sessions’ interpretation of federal law is extreme and indefensible. He has taken narrow language in the law and expanded it well beyond its meaning, in order to force counties and cities to hold people in jail without review by a court. And the Trump administration is using the power of the purse to force counties and cities to bend to its will.

“Local police are not at the beck and call of the federal government. Municipalities in Pennsylvania should stand strong against this unconstitutional power grab.”

The following can be attributed to Sara Rose, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Pennsylvania:

“Numerous courts have held that jails violate the Fourth Amendment when they hold people on immigration detainers, which are issued without probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. Attorney General Sessions’ statement sends the message to municipalities that they must violate their residents’ constitutional rights or lose federal funding. Such a requirement is plainly illegal under our system of government.”

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2014 lawsuit brought by the ACLU, ruled that ICE detainers are not binding on municipalities and that when municipalities honor the detainers to hold a person mistakenly they can be sued successfully for false arrest. The case is Galarza v. Szalczyk. Other federal courts have ruled likewise since Galarza. More information is available here.