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Orange County Sheriff’s Department Ends Immigration Hold Practices for Inmates


The Orange County Sheriff's Department has put an end to its controversial practice of holding certain inmates beyond their release dates for immigration authorities after the practice was deemed unconstitutional in a federal court ruling.

Along with other law enforcement agencies across the U.S., the Orange County Sheriff's Department will no longer carry out 48-hour holds beyond potentially deportable inmates' jail terms so immigration authorities can intervene and take them into custody. Instead, the department is now calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to alert federal agents when inmates are set to be released, which would give ICE the opportunity to pick up the inmates as they were leaving jail.

The federal court ruling that spurred this change came from an Oregon appeals court, which held that a local jail had violated the Fourth Amendment by holding inmates without probable cause or a court-approved warrant. According to the Orange County Sheriff's Department, the federal court ruling did not find it illegal to give inmates over to ICE custody, only to hold them beyond their release dates. That is why the department has chosen to still inform ICE of potentially deportable inmates prior to their release, as opposed to holding them longer than would be constitutional in accordance with the Oregon federal appeals court ruling.

A total of 140 counties, municipalities and others have changed their immigration hold practices since last month's federal court ruling, and many others continue to follow suit, according to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department also announced earlier this month that it would no longer hold inmates who had yet to be sentenced, for ICE. Further, the Orange County Probation Department modified its policy and will no longer hold minors solely on immigration detainers.

Deportation and Criminal Proceedings

When a person is living and working in the United States without a valid visa, green card or citizenship, he or she may face deportation. A criminal arrest may spur such deportation, as evidenced by the Orange County Sheriff's Department's practice of reporting illegal immigrants to ICE.

Even immigrants who are legally living and working in the U.S. may face deportation if they are convicted of certain crimes. Even green card holders, people with valid visas and refugees who have been granted asylum may be deported if they are convicted of committing such crimes as:

  • Arson
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Burglary
  • Marijuana cultivation
  • Forgery
  • Grand theft/grand theft auto
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Possession of a controlled substance for sale
  • Rape
  • Repeated felony DUI offenses
  • Drug trafficking
  • Theft crimes punishable by more than 1 year in prison
  • Pimping
  • Fraud involving at least $10,000
  • Firearms offenses

Challenging these so-called "deportable crimes" is of the utmost importance if your living in the U.S. is in jeopardy. Only a skilled criminal defense lawyer will be able to protect your legal rights to the fullest extent, whether you are considered a legal or illegal immigrant. This recent change in immigration holds for ICE by the Orange County Sheriff's Department is a step in the right direction, but defendants and inmates alike still require legal counsel to avoid violations of their basic rights.

At the Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman, we are committed to protecting the constitutional rights and interests of suspects, arrestees, and defendants in Orange County who are facing misdemeanor and felony criminal charges. To learn more about our firm and the steps we can take to help you avoid a conviction and deportation, please call for a confidential consultation.

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