County Attorney Says New Immigration Law Doesn’t Apply in Shelby County

The Shelby County Attorney concluded a new state law on jailed immigrants doesn’t apply to the county, the Shelby County Sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook on Wednesday afternoon.

The brief statement doesn’t explain the legal reasoning behind the county attorney’s conclusion.  

When people are arrested for a local offense, jail officials ask them about their citizenship. Depending on the answer, the jail may communicate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Sheriff’s office said it will continue to talk with ICE. But, continuing a practice in place since last year, the jail won’t hold immigrants beyond their normal release dates to give federal agents time to come pick them up.

It’s not clear how this policy squares with a Tennessee law that went into effect with the start of the new year. Among other things, that law aims to to force local authorities to obey federal requests to hold immigrants until federal agents can arrive.

Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Anthony Buckner referred questions to the Shelby County Attorney’s office. Efforts to reach Shelby County Attorney Marlinee Clark Iverson were not immediately successful late Wednesday afternoon. 

If ICE believes a person might be in the country illegally, they may send a request to the jail to hold the person for up to 48 hours until an agent can come pick them up for deportation proceedings. 

The county stopped following these detainer requests in April, shortly after the high-profile arrest of Spanish-language reporter Manuel Duran during a protest. Duran was taken to jail and eventually landed in ICE custody due to an old deportation order.

By Daniel Connolly for COMMERCIAL APPEAL

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