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Las Vegas police reject report saying department doesn’t cooperate on immigration enforcement

A Trump administration report Monday cast Clark County as “non-cooperative” with federal immigration authorities.

The characterization of the Southern Nevada county — and by extension, the Metropolitan Police Department, which runs the county jail — did not sit well with some local leaders.

Metro disputed the report’s portrayal and questioned its accuracy.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada called the report a blatant attempt by federal immigration authorities to pressure local communities to do more to help the feds apprehend undocumented immigrants.

“I think the report is plainly an attempt to narrow out those communities who are policing with a much more nuanced approach than the federal government,” ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Tod Story said.

The “Declined Detainer Outcome Report” released early Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, is the first weekly account required by an executive order issued in January by President Donald Trump. It is meant to “highlight jurisdictions that choose not to cooperate with ICE detainers or requests for notification, therefore potentially endangering Americans,” the agency said in a news release.

According to the report, Clark County had the highest number of immigration detainers issued to an uncooperative jurisdiction. From Jan. 28 through Feb. 3, it said, the county received 51 “detainers” — requests for local jails to hold potentially deportable inmates for up to 48 hours — from ICE.

METRO FIRES BACK

Metro called the report unfair.

“We believe the report released today by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement unfairly portrays the LVMPD as a ‘non-cooperative jurisdiction,’” the agency said in a statement Monday afternoon. “The LVMPD does, in fact, participate in the 287(g) program as a jail-based review of immigration status and has for many years.”

The statement was referring to ICE’s “delegated authority” program, which allows local corrections officers to be deputized as immigration agents.

During a conference call about the report Monday morning, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said the Department of Homeland Security was unable to confirm where the report’s data — specifically the 51 detainers mentioned in the report — came from.

“Nobody’s providing clarification,” Lombardo said. “That becomes very frustrating when you’re taking calls all day about an inaccurate report.”

The report does not note the outcome of the detainer requests sent to Clark County. A subsequent section of the report that lists individual cases in which detainer requests were declined does not include any instances in Clark County.

That section also included at least one error: It mistakenly listed 14 rejected detainers for the Travis County Jail in Texas, cases that were actually handled by the State Jail in Texas, a separate facility run by Texas’ prisons system. ICE corrected the mistake hours after its release, the Associated Press reported.

Metro said 99 inmates have been released this year to the custody of ICE.

To back up its description of Clark County, the report cited the 2014 decision by then-Sheriff Doug Gillespie to stop honoring immigration detainers if federal authorities did not show up to take custody of inmates within 48 hours. The decision followed a federal court ruling that an Oregon county had violated a woman’s Fourth Amendment rights by holding her in jail without cause past her “probable cause” release date.

That makes Clark County a “non-cooperative jurisdiction,” according to the report, which also noted the Washoe County sheriff enacted the same policy in 2014.

NEW POLICY BEGAN IN JANUARY

But Metro has indicated it has been cooperating with federal immigration authorities this year. Since early January, department officials have said, it began running the 48-hour detainer clock after notifying ICE at booking when a person was identified as a potential immigration violator. That means the detainer period largely coincides with the normal probable cause detention, thereby avoiding the issue raised in the Oregon case, department officials say.

Lombardo said there may be merit to the idea that ICE is trying to pressure local jurisidictions, offering the threat of withholding federal grant money as another example. He acknowledged the 2014 decision, but he said things have changed.

“We re-engaged with them on that, and they still keep quoting what happened in 2014,” he said.

The department has carefully framed its cooperation as a tool for getting rid of the worst criminals, an approach the ACLU of Nevada agrees with.

“Southern Nevada, especially the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, has worked extensively to build and retain relationships with the community regardless of their immigration status,” the ACLU’s Story said.

Contact Wesley Juhl at wjuhl@reviewjournal.com and 702-383-0391. Follow @WesJuhl on Twitter.