I sued the sheriff (but I did not sue the deputy)

by Jonah

TLDR: I’m suing the Sheriff for using my tax dollars to arrest suspected undocumented immigrants on behalf of the Federal Government. https://aclu-co.org/aclu-lawsuit-sheriffs-agreement-with-i…/

I am very proud to announce that, on behalf of myself and five other plaintiffs, the ACLU is suing the Teller County Sheriff regarding his participation in a program that cooperates with ICE to detain people that are suspected of being in the country illegally.

Now, before you go accusing me of being a bleeding-heart liberal, let me say that I have been a registered Republican as soon as I was old enough to register to vote. I’ve campaigned for multiple conservative candidates. I believe strongly in the rule of law and in limited government.

And that is exactly why I am opposed to my county sheriff spending my county tax money to do the Federal Government’s bidding at our own county’s expense. And in violation of Colorado law at that.

My husband Berck and I are suing as taxpayers in Teller County to attempt to stop the Sheriff’s participation in ICE’s 287(g) program, which basically deputizes local law enforcement to investigate, enforce, and detain suspected illegal immigrants. We’re also suing to try to stop the Sheriff’s current program of detaining anyone ICE suspects of being in the US illegally, even if they have already served their time in jail or posted bail.

The Colorado ACLU recently won an injunction against the neighboring El Paso County Sheriff for holding suspected illegals: https://aclu-co.org/judge-rules-el-paso-county-sheriff-mus…/ . El Paso County also decided to end their cooperation with ICE because it was just taking too many resources away from the county doing the Federal Government’s work for them. Other counties around the country have also ended their involvement, as the expense to the local communities was reaching into the hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars. As the judge in the El Paso County order wrote, “Few injuries are more real, immediate, or irreparable than being deprived of one’s personal liberty.”

As taxpayers in Teller County, we are concerned about the following issues with the Sheriff working with ICE in the capacities described above:

1) Joining ICE’s 287(g) program means that Teller County will have to pay to send its deputies to South Carolina, then lodge, board and pay per diem for those deputies to go through ICE’s training program.

2) Being a part of ICE’s 287(g) program means that Teller County Sheriff’s deputies will have to spend quite a bit of manpower doing the Federal Government’s job for them, then completing the paperwork ICE requires. El Paso County has already ended their participation in this program because it was eating up so much time for the deputies and because the El Paso County jail is already overcrowded.

3) Teller County’s current cooperation with ICE, detaining suspected illegals until ICE gets around to dealing with them, puts the county at a very real risk of having to pay out hefty settlements to people who are deprived of their liberty for no good reason when it turns out they should not be detained. For instance, Arapahoe County had to pay out a $30,000 settlement to a woman they detained at the request of ICE: https://aclu-co.org/colorado-sheriff-pay-30k-woman-held-im…/ . Guess who’s on the hook for paying up? The county, not ICE.

4) Under Colorado Statute and the state constitution, Colorado sheriffs are only supposed to be enforcing Colorado law, not Federal law.

5) Colorado just passed into law this year H.B. 19-1124 allowing law enforcement officers to arrest or detain persons for whom there is a federal warrant issued by a judge but forbidding the arrest of detainment for which there is only an “administrative” warrant. The Teller County Sheriff is wantonly violating this law by continuing its participation in the ICE’s 287(g) program, because doesn’t get judges to sign off on their warrants. I’ll let you guess who will be on the hook for paying his legal fees for challenging state law.

As taxpayers, we do not want to bear the financial burden of doing the work of the Federal Government for it and/or having to pay settlement awards by Teller County to anyone who is improperly detained at the request of ICE.

Along with my legal standing, I believe I have a moral duty to be a part of this lawsuit as well. Our Sheriff has been detaining people at the request of ICE even when they should rightfully be released from jail, unconstitutionally depriving them of their liberty. In fact, last July 15, Leonardo Canseco Salinas, who has lived in Colorado for 13 years, was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors for accidentally using $8.25 on a slot machine (which he paid back) and was then held for weeks by the Sheriff at the request of ICE on suspicion of being in the county illegally. ICE never picked him up, and he was finally released in September https://www.mountainjackpot.com/…/shots-fired-in-battle-be…/ .

I hope I never have to spend months at a time in jail for something dumb like that.

To be clear, I am not saying the Federal Government doesn’t have the responsibility to enforce its rules regarding immigration and I am not saying we should be releasing criminals back to freedom. But in this country you are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and per the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, you can’t be imprisoned without due process just because a governmental agency requests it. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Jefferson was right; unjustly denying a human’s liberty = despotism.

And I don’t want my tax dollars to support injustice like that.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” — Matthew 25: 35-36

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