Council Unanimously Passes Councilmember Allen’s Emergency Legislation Limiting the District’s Cooperation with ICE

Today, the DC Council unanimously voted to pass emergency legislation introduced by Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6) that limits cooperation between the Department of Corrections (DOC) and US Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“The District of Columbia will not be complicit with the Trump Administration’s attempt to cruelly terrorize our immigrant neighbors.  We know cruelty is the point with these immigration crackdowns. There is no compelling public safety justification for cooperating with these efforts. If we say we are a Sanctuary City, we must take the steps to back those words up,” said Councilmember Allen, who Chairs the Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. “In fact, to promote public safety, we must foster trust, not fear, between law enforcement and our communities.”

This emergency legislation would clarify and strengthen the District’s existing policies limiting collaboration with ICE. It would prohibit the District from doing the following absent a judicial warrant or order:

  • holding an individual in custody after that individual would otherwise have been legally released;
  • notifying ICE of individuals’ release dates, times, locations, addresses, or criminal case information;
  • providing space or equipment to ICE for a search or inquiry about an individual in the District’s custody;
  • permitting ICE to interview an individual in the District’s custody without counsel present; and
  • granting ICE access to any District detention facility, including the Department of Corrections, the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, to transfer or release an individual into federal custody.

Current law, passed in 2012, places limitations on the District’s compliance with civil detainer requests from ICE. The emergency legislation builds on that foundation to more fully protect the District and its residents. Detainer requests are not mandatory – the District is not legally required to comply with such requests absent a judicial warrant or order. Many jurisdictions across the country have chosen to limit or prohibit compliance with these requests.

Several federal courts have ruled detaining someone past their legal release date is a violation of the 4th amendment of the US Constitution.

Today’s introductions include an emergency bill and temporary bill that would go into effect immediately should they pass with the signature of the Mayor. Councilmember Allen will introduce permanent legislation this afternoon.

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