- Associated Press - Thursday, June 19, 2014

DENVER (AP) - Arapahoe County officials will pay $30,000 to a woman who was jailed for three days in 2012 at the request of federal immigration officials despite a judge’s order to release her, the American Civil Liberties Union in Colorado announced Thursday.

The settlement comes weeks after many sheriffs across Colorado said they would stop honoring detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The requests ask jails to detain inmates for an additional 48 hours after they have been ordered released so officials can investigate their status.

Recent court rulings in Oregon and Pennsylvania have said the requests are not commands they must abide by and that sheriffs could be liable for constitutional violations for holding people past the time when they would otherwise be released.

The woman who was held, Claudia Valdez, had called authorities because of a domestic dispute with her husband, the ACLU said. The couple was arrested, but the husband said he had been the aggressor, so a judge ordered Valdez to be released, the ACLU said. However, she remained in jail because of the detainer request from ICE.

“Ms. Valdez’s experience underscores the damage to public safety and community trust that results when victims of crime fear that any contact with law enforcement will be the first step in a seamless transfer to jail and then to immigration proceedings,” Colorado ACLU attorney Rebecca Wallace said in a statement.

The ACLU was prepared to take legal action in the case before the settlement. Arapahoe Sheriff David Walcher said the county felt it was better to settle the case and avoid a costly and time-consuming lawsuit. He also noted that the recent court decisions have changed how his office views the ICE detainer requests, but that he doesn’t think sheriff’s officials did anything wrong in the 2012 case.

“Do I felt we acted appropriately? Sure, we thought those (detainers) were valid at the time,” he said.

Valdez, who is from Mexico, still faces deportation because of her arrest. Hans Meyer, an immigration attorney representing Valdez, said she “came into contact with the police only because she needed help.”

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