A citizen of the United States cannot be detained and placed in jail without probable cause. He or she is entitled to certain rights under the constitution. In sharp contrast, some immigration authorities in California as well as other states have made a practice of asking that individuals who are believed to be immigrants be held in jail after they should have been released.
When an individual is arrested — regardless of the charge, this information is automatically shared among various agencies. U.S. immigration authorities often review this information and request that individuals who are believed to be immigrants be detained an additional 48 working hours after they should be released. This extension is to allow the agency time to investigate the individual and decide if he or she should be deported.
A federal judge in a neighboring state has recently ruled that this practice violated the constitutional rights of an immigrant woman. This ruling indicates that the arresting agency does not have to honor a request to detain an individual after he or she should be released. Over the past few years, the majority of agencies in California have stopped honoring these requests to further detain an individual.
Everyone can make a mistake. This includes U.S. immigration authorities. There have been instances where they have detained U.S. citizens or others who should not have been detained in the first place. This ruling indicates that the investigation should take place prior to detention and not the other way around.
Individuals seeking citizenship in California often find that there are numerous obstacles in their way. Those seeking permanent residence in the United States will want to be aware of their rights. Additionally, they will want to know what steps they need to take in order to protect their rights in the event that they are detained.
Source: ABC News, “Oregon ruling spurs halt on immigration detainers”, Gosia Wozniacka, April 17, 2014