- Associated Press - Sunday, November 8, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - County jail administrators say they’ve gotten no direction on a now 4-month-old Homeland Security plan targeting people suspected of immigration violations.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman told the Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/1iLNZvb) that the agency has been in contact with sheriffs and now plans to brief county jail administrators on the voluntary program.

Unlike other states that put sheriffs in charge of county jails, New Mexico’s county-hired administrators run the facilities and can notify ICE that an inmate of interest is headed for release.

This new plan replaces an old system that asked jails to hold people flagged for possible immigration violations. Individuals could be held for up to two days after they were eligible for release.

San Juan and Dona Ana counties were among those sued over these “detainers.” Federal rulings say detainers are requests without the authority of an official judicial order.

The new Priority Enforcement Program is voluntary. ICE is spending the next weeks briefing jail administrators and requesting their cooperation.

“We do notify ICE after an inmate has been released but cannot hold them on this document once the local cases are cleared,” Metropolitan Detention Center spokeswoman Nataura Powdrell said in an email.

Luna County Detention Center Director Matt Elwell chairs the New Mexico Association of Counties Detention Administrators Affiliate. He said one jail administrator out of 21 at a recent meeting in Ruidoso said ICE had been in contact about the new plan.

“They haven’t gotten the message to us yet,” said Clay Corn, administrator of the Chaves County Detention Center in Roswell. “I think mutual cooperation between our agencies would certainly benefit both of us since we are the agency that would be holding these prisoners. What are they trying to accomplish with these new forms? What is the vision for detaining these people in the future, legally? It would be a good idea to share interagency information.”

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

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