Monday, July 16, 2018
Opinion

Column: Why sheriffs, feds are at odds on immigration

The Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the nation's sheriffs are at a standoff.

ICE insists that sheriffs detain illegal immigrants in their local jails past the time period legally allowed under their local charges, and it claims that be legally done by following their formal requests called "detainers.'' These are civil, not criminal detainers that carry no proper legal authority and expose sheriffs (and local taxpayers) to costly civil liability for illegally detaining the individual.

While the illegal immigration debate is complex and emotional, I swore to follow the law, even when it's inconvenient. The federal government also must follow the law even when it's inconvenient, and it is wrong for the federal government to ask sheriffs to ignore the U.S. Constitution and the law that we are sworn to uphold by illegally keeping people in our jails.

To be clear, only the federal government has the authority and jurisdiction to deport people and enforce our nation's immigration laws. State and local law enforcement officials, including sheriffs, have no authority to enforce immigration laws. Sheriffs should assist ICE and other federal agencies to the extent permitted by law. But we must not be asked, or in this case expected, to act outside the confines of the law and risk civil liability and financial penalties, which are ultimately paid for by the taxpayers.

Every court in this country that has considered the issue has determined that ICE's civil "detainers," or requests, directed to sheriffs do not provide a lawful basis for sheriffs to hold someone in jail once their local charges are resolved. Even when ICE issues a civil administrative arrest warrant, signed by an ICE agent but not a judge, with their detainer request, the law does not allow sheriffs to serve these arrest warrants. Those warrants may only be served by ICE agents.

The president's recent executive order required the Department of Homeland Security to publish weekly reports identifying sheriffs and jails that will not honor the ICE civil detainer requests. Homeland Security began publishing these report two weeks ago. These misleading reports are, in addition to identifying sheriffs that are following the law, wrongly identifying sheriffs who are, in fact, cooperative.

In Pinellas County, we are not on the Homeland Security list because we have developed a lawful solution with ICE that can be implemented nationwide. I will continue to abide by the law and protect taxpayers from unnecessary civil financial exposure, and I welcome the opportunity to work with ICE in implementing a nationwide lawful solution.

We chastise our children for bullying behavior, and reward cooperative solutions. We should expect nothing less of our federal government.

Bob Gualtieri is the Pinellas County sheriff.

Comments
Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

The St. Petersburg City Council made the appropriate but difficult decision to reject a contract with renowned artist Janet Echelman for one of her aerial sculptures. It would be wonderful for the city to have one of her signature works, but Spa Beac...
Published: 07/13/18

‘Everybody needed to know what happened’

The brutal murder of Emmett Till, a black Chicago youth, in Mississippi nearly 63 years ago went unpunished, but not forgotten. A decision by his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, to allow an open casket at Emmett’s Chicago funeral represented an act of def...
Published: 07/13/18
Editorial: Personal bias taints Florida’s clemency system

Editorial: Personal bias taints Florida’s clemency system

A recent exchange between the governor and Cabinet and a felon seeking to have his civil rights restored underscores the arbitrary unfairness of Florida’s clemency system. A long waiting period, a ridiculous backlog of cases and elected officials who...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/13/18

Trump should work with Congress on immigration

Donald Trump’s resounding victory in the 2016 presidential election came at least in part because the New York businessman grasped the disconnect between how millions of Americans and the political establishments of both parties felt about immigratio...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/13/18
Editorial: Trump’s trade war hurts American consumers

Editorial: Trump’s trade war hurts American consumers

Voters who looked to Donald Trump to make America great might want to look at their wallets. The president escalated his global trade war this week, threatening new tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports — everything from seafood, beef and ...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/12/18
Editorial: Rays stadium cost should be fairly shared

Editorial: Rays stadium cost should be fairly shared

The imaginative Ybor City ballpark proposed by the Tampa Bay Rays fits nicely into the 21st century vision of a sophisticated city and would secure major league baseball’s future for the entire region. It also carries an eye-catching cost that will h...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/12/18
Editorial: Supreme Court pick qualified, but confirmation process should be vigorous

Editorial: Supreme Court pick qualified, but confirmation process should be vigorous

For the second time in less than 18 months, President Donald Trump has nominated a well-qualified, conservative federal appeals court judge to the U.S. Supreme Court. That does not mean Judge Brett Kavanaugh should get an easy pass through Senate con...
Published: 07/10/18
Updated: 07/11/18
Editorial: Nobody uses fireworks to scare off birds

Editorial: Nobody uses fireworks to scare off birds

Americans are accustomed to celebrating the nation’s birthday by blowing up Chinese fireworks for days — a rite of recklessness that kills seven people a year and sends another 13,000 to hospital emergency rooms. The tragic toll struck close to home ...
Published: 07/09/18
Updated: 07/13/18
Editorial: Let local governments regulate short-term rentals

Editorial: Let local governments regulate short-term rentals

The Florida Legislature’s meddling in local issues has created another mess for neighborhoods across the state. No family should have to put up with a short-term rental next door that overwhelms their street with constant visitors, traffic and noise ...
Published: 07/09/18
Updated: 07/10/18
Editorial: The real forces behind mass shootings

Editorial: The real forces behind mass shootings

It’s the refrain by gun advocates in the wake of every mass shooting: The attacker was mentally ill. They obtained their gun illegally. The message is that gun violence isn’t about guns but mental instability and gaps in law enforcement. But a recent...
Published: 07/08/18
Updated: 07/09/18