Local agencies are finding themselves saddled with many of the costs connected to recent changes to federal immigration policies.
Nate Chute/IndyStar

Indiana’s attorney general wants to intervene in a settlement between the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana to end warrantless ICE detention requests.  

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Curtis Hill plans to appeal the signed settlement agreement struck a month ago between the ACLU and Marion County Sheriff’s Office to end Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests to hold people who are believed to be in the country illegally.  

Under such requests, local police hold people in jail beyond the time when they otherwise should be released from an arrest, generally a 48-hour period. This affords the immigration agency more time to check their citizenship status and, if needed, get a deportation warrant, even if the initial arrest was for something as minor as a traffic infraction.

The requests are not signed by a judge and do not require probable cause that the person believed to be in the country illegally has committed a crime. 

In a 36-page order handed down Nov. 7, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued an injunction preventing the Sheriff’s Office from detaining any person based solely on ICE requests. 

The settlement was finalized that day. 

But in a motion this week to intervene in the federal case, Hill argues that the state’s interests were not properly represented during the legal proceedings. He also says Barker misinterpreted the law. 

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An attorney for the ACLU told IndyStar that he plans to appeal Hill’s motion. 

“They have absolutely no right to be heard in this case,” said Gavin Rose, adding that Hill’s office will have “an uphill battle” proving to Barker that the settlement agreement should be re-examined. 

Hill points to a state statute passed in 2011 that prevents governmental bodies from enacting laws that interfere with law enforcement officers’ duties, arguing Barker cannot ban warrantless detainers. 

“Taken together, these provisions bar prohibitions on cooperation with federal immigration enforcement and establish a ‘duty to cooperate’ with federal immigration efforts,” Hill said.

Hill is not the first party to attempt to sway the ICE detention case. In July, the U.S. Justice Department filed a notice of appearance in the case and requested that the Sheriff’s Office cooperate with the ICE arrest procedures. 

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana Joshua J. Minkler, also represented the federal government in the case.

The case stemmed from the 2016 arrest of undocumented immigrant Antonio Lopez-Aguilar.

Aguilar was detained as he appeared at the Marion County Traffic Court to answer for a misdemeanor charge that he had driven without a license in September 2016. 

Once the hearing ended — without any requirement that he serve jail time for that charge — Lopez-Aguilar was informed that he was being taken into custody until he could be transferred to the custody of ICE.

The ACLU alleged that ICE arrested and held Lopez-Aguilar without cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment. 

Call IndyStar reporter Fatima Hussein at (317) 444-6209. Follow her on Twitter:@fatimathefatima.

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