The Douglas County Jail: Who is running the show in Lawrence, Kansas?

Advocacy groups like the subjects of this report are — irrespective of how they describe their objectives — working to weaken the exercise of United States sovereignty over its own territory. The truth of this assertion is demonstrated by the actions of these groups.

That being the objective, immigrant advocacy groups work to nullify enforcement of U.S. immigration law, with the sole exception of cases where a person has been convicted of a serious, violent crime.

When authorities retreat from upholding the fundamental principle that deportation of persons for simple violations of U.S. immigration law is an exercise of U.S. sovereignty over its own territory, the battle has essentially been lost. The right of the federal government to exercise control over who is or isn't allowed to enter into and remain in its own territory has been abandoned.

The Douglas County Jail in Lawrence, Kansas

The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a local advocacy group called Sanctuary Alliance has been working with Lawrence City Hall to develop policies making it less likely that immigrants will be detained solely for immigration violations.

Focus of these discussions has been shifting in the direction of the Douglas County Jail.

The jail follows a system wherein fingerprint files are sent to federal immigration officials. That can result in illegal aliens, or “immigrants”, as they are called by those who refuse to the validity of U.S. immigration law, being held in the county jail for up to two days after their scheduled release.

A person taken to jail on a misdemeanor charge like DUI would ordinarily be bonded out of the jail quickly. However, if their fingerprint data catches the attention ICE agents, the county jail will hold the detainee for up to 48 hours, in order to give ICE time to arrive and take them into custody.

Immigration advocates working on weak points at City Hall argue for practices that would reduce the chance for a misdemeanor violation leading to the deportation of an illegal alien. Douglas County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jenn Hethcoat responded to an inquiry from the Lawrence Journal-World, asking if similar policy changes are being considered at the jail, by pointing out that they are handling detainer requests and probable cause warrants received from ICE. Therefore they are carrying out their duty to uphold the law.

ICE officials confirmed to the Journal-World that probable cause warrants can be issued solely for immigration violations. These documents, formally Form I-200: Warrant for Arrest of Alien, specifically concern civil immigration law violations, not criminal law violations. Immigration violations include entering the country illegally, overstaying a visa or remaining in the United States after an asylum claim was rejected.

Officials at a county sheriff’s office are legally bound to enforce those warrants by holding the subject until custody is transferred to ICE.

Who is running the show in Lawrence, Kansas?

The Lawrence City Commission drafted a policy regarding police cooperation with ICE, after receiving a proposal last year from the Sanctuary Alliance, which wants Lawrence to become a sanctuary city. Sanctuary Alliance organizer Mariel Ferreiro says the group is starting at the city level, but plans to start the conversation at the county level once the city policies are adopted.

She wants to arrange meetings with the sheriff and county commissioners, in order to ask about procedures, to learn what information is being shared with ICE and under what circumstances ICE asks the jail to detain people beyond their scheduled release date and time, so that ICE can assume custody.

ICE would not become aware that a person being sought is already in custody in a local jail, if not for the existence of information-sharing arrangements made with local law enforcement agencies. Notifications are triggered by the fingerprinting of inmates as part of the booking process. Therefore, the Sanctuary Alliance wants to establish policies defining when local law enforcement agencies are “allowed” to notify ICE regarding bookings into the county jail.

Mariel Ferreiro wants to discover the set of circumstances under which ICE submits an immigration warrant, to ensure that people are not being detained for civil immigration violations.

Please note that at this point, the people being shielded from deportation would not just be “ordinary” illegal entrants, but people who managed to find their way into the local jail, and whose saving grace is that they hadn't been convicted in court for a violent offense.

The reason why this select group of people in jail has become the focus of interest for immigration advocates is that this very group is the focus of interest for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not legal advice.