Hennepin County Sheriff Demands Apology in Wake of DHS Report

Hennepin County Sheriff Stanek demands an apology from DHS for wrongly accusing his office of not complying with the law.

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Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman give press conference on the release of DDOR DHS report. Image Credit: Preya Samsundar/Alpha News MN

MINNEAPOLIS — Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman are calling on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue a formal apology after a report by the agency details two instances where the county refused to comply with immigration enforcement officers.

Under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in his first days in office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under the jurisdiction of the DHS started releasing weekly Declined Detainer Outcome Reports (DDOR).

The report details local jurisdictions which ignore ICE detainer waivers. The waivers ask local law enforcement agencies to detain potential undocumented immigrants beyond the 48 hour charge-or-release deadline if they are picked up for committing a crime.

The first report, which was released to the public on Monday, details 206 instances where local law enforcement agencies from around the country declined to comply with the ICE waivers during the week of January 28 – February 3, 2017.

The report includes two situations where the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office (HCSO) under the authority of Sheriff Rich Stanek declined waivers.

Earlier in the week, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department released a statement disagreeing with aspects of the report.

“The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office cooperates with ICE to the full extent of the law. The report is incorrect in some respects and we are working with DHS to help them understand our operations. We are awaiting legal clarification from DHS on their current guidance,” the statement said, “The local ICE Field Office has been issuing I247N forms for all inmates that ICE is interested in, and in every case we notify ICE in advance of an inmate’s release if we have been contacted.

At a press conference Thursday, Stanek reiterated the inaccuracy of the accusations found in the DHS report. Stanek provided the mug shots of the two men described in the report. Julio Salazar Vega was brought in for possessing “dangerous drugs” and Vincente Guerrero-Fernandez was charged with a “weapons offense.” Both men, identified as Mexican nationals, were brought in on the evening of February 1. ICE was notified in advance and both men were transferred to ICE custody after being released by HCSO according to Stanek, who also provided still images of security video that shows the transfer of both men into ICE custody on February 3.

The DDOR report notes that Stanek implemented a policy in July 2014 stating the office, “will not honor ICE detainer absence judicial authority.”

A press release issued by the HCSO on June 11, 2014, confirms the DDOR statement:.

“Historically, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers were interpreted as ‘mandatory,’ requiring jails to honor them. However, recent directive by U.S. ICE that detainers are discretionary and subsequent Federal Court decisions articulating the same, are strong indicators that the legal landscape is changing. Therefore, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office will no longer honor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers absent judicial authority.”

Both Stanek and Freeman reiterated their continued support of the policy. “Sheriff Stanek is absolutely correct legally in what he is doing,” Freeman said. “Most of us came to this country to be free and independent. You cannot hold somebody on a bureaucrats statement that they’d like them to be held.” Freeman also said ICE could get a warrant, a judge’s signature for someone to be held, or they can be there when they are released. “We cannot hold them for another 48 hours. It’s not constitutional, it’s not legal,” said Freeman.

“The jurisdictions reflected in ICE’s Declined Detainer Outcome Report (DDOR) are jurisdictions that have – in the past – publically expressed unwillingness to fully comply with ICE’s detainer requests or have not provided ICE with sufficient time to allow for the safe transfer of a detainee,” ICE Spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez told Alpha News.

Stanek believes HCSO should not have been in the report to begin with. “They say a picture speaks a thousand words, that’s two thousand for you right there,” Stanek said referring to the security cam stills. Next week, Stanek plans on addressing the issue with both ICE Director Tom Homan and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “They have an obligation to the nation’s sheriffs and local law enforcement to do their job and do it well and recognize the difference between jurisdictions.

“Hennepin County is not a sanctuary for criminals,” said Stanek. He also acknowledges that the release of the report has made his job harder within local minority communities who feel betrayed, while inaccurately concluding the two men eventually taken into custody by ICE had been released on the streets.

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