Despite denials, Baltimore jail has received many ICE detainer requests

There’s been a very inconsistent message coming out of the state of Maryland in general and the City of Baltimore in particular when it comes to the question of cooperation with federal immigration officials and the detention of illegal aliens. Governor Hogan’s office has appeared to go back and forth on whether or not ICE cooperation was mandatory, discouraged or optional. Meanwhile, the Baltimore City jail (which is actually run by the state) has been even more vague in their answers.

When questioned by the media as recently as last month they claimed that the issue was moot because they hadn’t received any detainer requests from ICE. But in a top-notch job of investigative journalism, the Baltimore Sun has gotten to the bottom of it. Despite their protests to the contrary, the jail has received dozens of such requests.

Federal immigration agents have asked the state-run Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center to hold dozens of immigrants in custody, despite assertions by local officials that they received no such requests, documents reviewed by The Baltimore Sun show.

Since 2015, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has asked the state officials who run the facility in Baltimore to hold at least 40 inmates for 48 hours beyond the time when they would normally have been released, to give federal agents the opportunity to pick them up for alleged immigration violations.

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which runs the Baltimore facility, has previously said it received no requests to hold undocumented immigrants beyond their scheduled release. In response to a Maryland Public Information Act request this spring seeking a limited number of the “immigration detainer” forms, the department said it received none since Hogan’s inauguration in 2015.

There’s still a bit of he said, she said going on here because state officials have claimed that the acceptance of detainers is a non-issue since they wind up making prisoners available anyway. But if that’s the case, then why claim that you’ve never received any requests? It seems as if it would have been simpler to just either record them and honor them or deny them. Pretending a problem doesn’t exist won’t make it go away forever.

Also of interest is the processing of some of these detainer forms obtained by the Sun. Most of the standard forms have two boxes on them to be checked off. One says to hold the alien for 48 hours and the other says to notify ICE prior to release. But as the newspaper’s investigation reveals, there were cases where ICE requested both of those things, but the recording officer only checked the first box. This may have resulted in a prisoner being held for an additional two days, but then being released anyway since nobody from ICE knew they were ready to be picked up.

That leads to one obvious question as far as I’m concerned: why bother having two boxes? Under what circumstances would ICE want you to hold onto a prisoner for an extra 48 hours but not have any interest in being told when they would be sprung? It seems as if a single box would do and could avoid this confusion, assuming it was an actual “mistake” when it happened.

Additional clarity is still needed from Governor Hogan’s office. I realize he’s running for reelection in a blue state and only feels that he can push any of these sensitive SJW issues just so far, but there needs to be one clear policy published and stuck to. You’re either going to allow sanctuary city/state policies and forfeit your DOJ grant money or you’re not. It may be politically difficult, but it’s a decision which needs to be made.