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Lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of ICE detainers filed

While most people are undoubtedly familiar with terms like "sanctuary city" and "detainers" thanks to round-the-clock news coverage, they might not have a complete understanding of what these terms really entail.

In general, when officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement determine that local police departments or jails are going to release an individual that they've identified as a target for deportation, they will issue what is known as a detainer. In general, these are formal requests asking the local police departments or jails to hold a designated individual otherwise designated for release until ICE officials can place them under arrest.

When law enforcement in particular locations elects to ignore these ICE detainers, they are labeled "sanctuary cities."

This designation, of course, has gained greater significance in the last few months given that President Trump signed an executive order within a week of taking office indicating that cities or counties ignoring ICE detainers could face the withholding of federal funds.

Interestingly enough, a lawsuit was filed in the Federal District Court in Miami earlier this week challenging the constitutionality of these ICE detainers.

Specifically, the case was brought on behalf of a local man who was held by Miami-Dade County back in March in connection with a domestic dispute case, which was later dropped. Despite posting bail, he was held overnight on an ICE detainer on the belief that he was an undocumented immigrant.

He was ultimately released and the detainer dropped, however, after ICE determined that he was indeed a U.S. citizen.

The lawsuit argues that the ICE detainer violated his right against unlawful seizure under the Fourth Amendment. Specifically, he is advancing the argument that ICE detainers are tantamount to arrest warrants, yet do not carry the same burden of proof.

"What immigration does is check a box on a boilerplate form saying they have probable cause to hold someone in custody, and that is supposed to be constitutionally sufficient to detain them,” said the man's attorney. “That’s what we’re saying is wrong."

It will be fascinating to monitor this case, which many legal experts are saying will officially test an argument being advanced by sanctuary cities and immigration attorneys across the nation.

Stay tuned for updates …

If you have concerns relating to deportation, permanent residency or any other immigration-related matter, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can fight to enforce your rights.

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