Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, in a letter to Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, reaffirms that the OPSO's policy provides for continued cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel. The policy also establishes standards and procedures that protect the Constitutional rights of all individuals housed at OPSO.
The text of Sheriff Gusman's letter to Sen. Vitter is below:
Dear Senator Vitter:
The Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office's policy on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) voluntary detainers clearly defines standards and procedures that will allow the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office to continue to cooperate with ICE personnel while protecting the Constitutional rights of all individuals who come into our custody, care, and control.
Under the policy, the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office shall decline all voluntary ICE detainer requests unless the individual is charged for one or more serious offenses such as: First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Aggravated Rape, Aggravated Kidnapping, Treason, or Armed Robbery with use of a firearm. If a court later dismisses or reduces these charges or the court recommends declining the ICE hold request, OPSO, in turn, will decline the ICE voluntary hold request. OPSO will not initiate investigations into the immigration status of individuals in OPSO custody.
We adopted this policy, in part, because of the cavalier nature of ICE hold requests. For example, ICE's "48-hour hold" requests exclude weekends and holidays. This exclusion places one more unfunded mandate from the federal government onto local jurisdictions. Our agency is footing this bill without compensation from the federal agency.
Rather than creating new funding barriers to local jurisdictions through your proposed legislation, my hope is that you would join me in supporting increased funding for local jurisdictions burdened by these unfunded mandates.
Our policy also outlines procedures that allow ICE to conduct criminal investigations at our jail facilities. Prior to any interview related to an ICE investigation, ICE must notify the inmate's attorney, and provide a reasonable opportunity for counsel to be present. Finally, ICE must confirm to OPSO that this notice and opportunity has occurred.
Our policy does not prevent ICE from executing its duties. Today, ICE agents can go before a judge and make their case for a probable cause warrant. With a warrant, OPSO will detain the inmate until he or she is picked up by ICE.
Our policy is about freedom and fairness, ideals upon which I hope we can both agree and upon which our country was built. If we are to continue to be judged by these ideals, I believe our new ICE policy places us on the right side of this issue and keeps us on a path to a stronger future.
Marlin N. Gusman