Newspaper column: Nevada needs a law allowing police to cooperate with ICE

A ruling by a federal judge in California has put law enforcement agencies in Nevada and much of the nation in legal jeopardy if they hold prisoners, who are in the country illegally, for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for potential deportation.

The ruling by Central California U.S. District Court Judge Andre Birrote Jr. in September held that it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unwarranted search and seizure to hold a prisoner until an ICE agent is available to take that prisoner into custody — unless the detention is expressly authorized by state law.

Judge Birrote wrote, “A fundamental tenet of federalism requires states to determine the powers and responsibilities of their own officers and any attempt to subvert states’ control over their law enforcement runs afoul of the Tenth Amendment. … Thus, even where federal law permits state or local officers to make civil immigration arrests, the authority for such arrests must come from state law.”

Though Arizona and a few other states have such laws, Nevada does not.

As a result, a couple of weeks ago the head of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which covers the jurisdictions of Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County, announced his agency was suspending its formal agreement with ICE — called a 287(g) program — to detain prisoners for pickup by the federal agency. The sheriffs in Nye and Lyon counties also have 287(g) agreements but they have not said what their plans are yet. Other jurisdictions may not have formal agreements but may still cooperate with ICE.

In announcing the change in policy, Metro Sheriff Joe Lombardo said his agency will “continue to work with ICE at the Clark County Detention Center in removing persons without legal status who have committed violent crimes,” according to The Nevada Independent.

ICE’s deputy field office director in Las Vegas, Dana L. Fishburn, issued a statement saying, “Clark County’s decision to suspend its 287(g) program will only benefit criminals. Recent California legislation regarding detainers is irrelevant, and is an excuse to justify a decision that will impact the safety of our communities here in Nevada.”

The potential threat to local enforcement agencies who cooperate with ICE was spelled out in a press release from the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California at the time of the ruling. It quoted Ruben Loyo, senior litigation attorney at the National Immigrant Justice Center as saying, “For over a decade now ICE has been systematically violating the Fourth Amendment rights of hundreds of thousands of individuals each year through its detainers. This ruling should be yet another reminder to law enforcement that if you comply with detainers you too will be held liable.”

ICE Acting Director Matt Albence warned that the ruling will endanger the public and called it “judicial overreach.” According to Fox News, in the past year ICE deported more than 145,000 illegal immigrants, of those approximately 70 percent occurred through detainer requests made to state and local jails and prisons.

“This conclusion is out of step with the realities of modern law enforcement, endangers the public and construes probable cause in an unfairly restrictive way,” Albence said. “Moreover, this decision, issued by a single judge in Los Angeles will impact at least 43 states, threatening communities far beyond the one in which this judge sits.”

Meanwhile, in Arizona it is business as usual. State law allows county sheriffs “the authority to develop their own protocol consistent with the law,” Ryan Anderson, a spokesman with the Arizona attorney general’s office, told Cronkite News, adding that the law bars detention of people for “longer than necessary” on suspicion of being here illegally. This gives local law enforcement discretion, but one Arizona sheriff said he would hold those in the country illegally for immigration agents only if they are picked up immediately.

Lest some Nevada sheriff or police chief gets dragged into court for holding a potentially dangerous illegal immigrant an extra 20 minutes while waiting for an ICE agent, Gov. Steve Sisolak should call the Legislature into special session to quickly pass a law similar to the one in Arizona.

While we’ll not hold our breaths waiting for the Democratic governor or the Democratic majorities of both chambers of the Legislature to act on behalf of public safety over the convenience of illegal immigrants, it would be the right thing to do.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Metro Sheriff Joe Lombardo (AP file pix)

14 comments on “Newspaper column: Nevada needs a law allowing police to cooperate with ICE

  1. Anonymous says:

    If it’s “right” it will undoubtedly be wrong.

    Since the 4th Amendment to our Constitution never distinguishes between undocumented aliens and citizens, how do you justify from a Constitutional perspective, detaining one person alleged to be an “illegal” from another who isn’t longer?

    Principles man.

  2. Because being in this country without permission is a crime.

  3. Anonymous says:

    That makes zero sense.

    The question was about the Constitution and where in the 4th Amendment there is justification for treating undocumented people differently than documented ones.

    We both know it doesn’t exist which leads to the next question which is what about principles man?

  4. Mistrbill says:

    In my eyes , and 100,000’s more, if you came here illegally, you broke our laws! Second, if you are in jail you “probably” broke one or more of our laws to get there! Our constitution was written to protect “We The People”, citizens of this country from criminals and politicians who would over step OUR rights. Illegals do not get the same protection as do citizens.
    Break a law in Mexico and see how long you sit in jail!

  5. Anonymous says:


    This is the language in the 4th Amendment:

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    Please point out to me the express language within the Amendment that suggests “illegals” do not get the same protection from government action as citizens. And note that the Supreme Court has already interpreted (not that the language needs any interpretation since as most right wingers will tell you “the Constitution was written so that a 6th grader could understand it.” leastways when it suits their purposes) the Supreme Court has already said that the language in the 4th Amendment applies equally to all “persons”.

    Conservatives and the stuff they say man…

  6. Mistrbill says:

    Our Constitution as well as the Bill of rights was written in total for WE THE PEOPLE, CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES,(U.S. citizens are:

    • individuals born in one of the several states of the United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, or Virgin Islands;

    • individuals born in an outlying possession of the U.S. (American Samoa or Swain’s Island) on or after the date the U.S. acquired the possession (US non-citizen national);

    • foreign-born children, under age 18, residing in the U.S. with their birth or adoptive parents, at least one of whom is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization; and

    • individuals granted citizenship status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (naturalized U.S. citizens).

    To receive benefits, an individual must be either a U.S. citizen or an eligible qualified alien (see Section 305.09, Determining Qualified Alien Status).

    ILLEGAL INHABITANTS( someone who lives or works in another country when they do not have the legal right to do this) are not covered by OUR CONSTITUTION or The BILL OF RIGHTS!

    Put this in your pipe and smoke it!

  7. Anonymous says:


    How many illegals were there do you figure when the Constitution was written?

    And how many citizens of the United States were there?


  8. Steve says:

    “How many illegals were there do you figure when the Constitution was written?

    And how many citizens of the United States were there?”

    Total sham argument.
    But that’s what you do best, make up crap and argue it.

  9. Mistrbill says:

    AMEN Steve! Leaving here now! Sick of his / her communistic thinking anyhow.

  10. Barbara says:

    James Madison explained in Federalist #42 that the federal power over naturalization solved “a very serious embarrassment” and “defect” of the Articles of Confederation whereby “certain descriptions of aliens, who had rendered themselves obnoxious” can force themselves on several states had they “acquired the character of citizens under the laws of another State.”

    We all agree to strong state powers over education, housing, and local governance, but states have no right to harbor those who trespassed upon the whole of the union before entering that state. Borrowed from Daniel Horowitz. I agree completely.

  11. […] Nevada needs a law allowing police to cooperate with ICE A ruling by a federal judge in California has put law enforcement agencies in Nevada and much of the nation in legal jeopardy if they hold prisoners, who are in the country illegally, for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for potential deportation. […]

  12. Anonymous says:

    “I fear for our beloved republic”


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