DENVER – Arapahoe County has agreed to pay $30,000 to a woman who was held for immigration officials when she called police to ask for help.
When Claudia Valdez was allegedly assaulted by her husband in July of 2012, she called police, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement. Upon learning that she had entered the country illegally more than a decade before, officers arrested Valdez.
Valdez, who is from Mexico, has lived in Colorado for 15 years, has three children who are citizens, and no criminal record. However, she is in the country illegally and faces deportation proceedings as a result of her arrest.
Valdez’s husband later admitted that he had been the aggressor, and a judge ordered that Valdez be released from jail. However, the Arapahoe County Sherriff’s Office held her for three additional days in compliance with a detainer request from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, according to the ACLU.
ICE detainers are requests that a local law enforcement agency hold a person ICE suspects of violating immigration law. Agencies are not legally required to comply, and must release the suspect if ICE doesn’t formally arrest them within 48 hours.
The practice has been highly controversial, with ICE claiming that detainers are a key part of immigration enforcement, while groups like the ACLU argue that the requests are used too frequently and sometimes lead to people who have broken no laws being held in jail.
Upon learning of Claudia Valdez’s situation, the ACLU began working on her behalf. The group said it was prepared to sue over the matter.
“When ICE asks a sheriff to hold a prisoner, the agency is essentially asking the sheriff to make a new arrest,” said Mark Silverstein, Legal Director for the ACLU of Colorado. “And Colorado law just does not provide authority to sheriffs to make that arrest.”
The group lauded Arapahoe County’s decision to compensate Valdez, and vowed to continue pressuring Colorado sheriffs who cooperate with ICE detainers.
Denver and some other Colorado counties have said they will no longer hold suspects based solely on ICE’s immigration requests.