PHOENIX — A new Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office policy that will not allow illegal immigrants to be held past their release time for questioning by federal officials endangers the public, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Friday.
“This policy that has been enacted in Maricopa County has really endangered the people and the [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents that now will have to apprehend these convicted criminal aliens in communities,” she told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos.
The policy at the heart of the debate was one enacted by former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Under the policy, illegal immigrants could legally be held for as long as 48 hours in county prisons until they were retrieved by ICE officials for questioning.
Brewer said the decision to rescind the policy, announced by Sheriff Paul Penzone last week, goes against the will of the people.
“I think somebody is going to be held accountable for that decision,” she said.
But Maricopa County’s legal team might say otherwise. Earlier this week, Attorney Bill Montgomery said the new policy would likely prevent further lawsuits against the county.
“Our analysis in looking at federal courts around the country is that courts consistently are saying the Fourth Amendment does not allow continued detention on a civil immigration detainer once a state court has ordered release,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Wednesday.
Penzone asked the Department of Homeland Safety to issue guidelines on the immigration holds on Thursday.
Though the policy was rescinded, both Penzone and ICE have promised to work together to process illegal immigrants.
Brewer claimed Penzone has not been communicating with federal officials since the policy change based on a report from Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that has previous incidents of reporting bias.
“They’re just releasing them willy-nilly and they’re putting them out into our community and why they’re doing that makes no sense,” she said.
The Judicial Watch report also said MCSO is releasing “an average of 400 ‘criminal illegal immigrants'” every 10 days. Numbers from the sheriff’s office showed that claim to be untrue. Only 58 illegal immigrants have been released since the new rule was put in place and at least five of those have been arrested by ICE.
Brewer said the old way of doing things was key to federal and local officials working together to stop illegal immigration and she did not recall it being an issue.
“I don’t remember anybody being sued over detaining of people in the past,” she said.
Arpaio’s agency was sued in December by an American woman who was held past her released date so ICE could question her.
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