Yakima County to Stop Detaining Individuals Based on ICE Warrants

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    YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. - The Yakima County entered a settlement on Wednesday resolving claims in cases with jail policy.

    In a press release sent out by Columbia Legal Services the Yakima County entered a settlement resolving claims brought on by previous cases, Sanchez-Ochoa and Olivera.

    After more than a year of litigation challenging Yakima County's use of immigration holds, the Yakima County jail will change its policy on cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

    The policy change will challenge the county's practice of holding individuals in county custody on an immigration hold past the time they are otherwise eligible for release from jail.

    "Jails in Yakima County and across the nation cannot deny a person's constitutional right to liberty unless the government has demonstrated probable cause," said Alfredo Gonzalez, an attorney with Columbia legal Services. "Local law enforcement doesn't need to violate the Constitution and the rights of individuals to make our communities safer."

    In the settlement agreement, the county commits that:

    • Yakima County will no longer prolong the detention of persons otherwise eligible to be released from county custody in response to request from immigration authorities
    • Yakima County will cease making "electronic" transfers to immigration custody and will release people from county custody when they are entitled to release
    • Yakima will no longer publish civil immigration warrants or detainees on the county jail's website, but will confirm when an individual is being held under the contract with federal authorities
    • Yakima County agreed to pay a total of $25,000 in damages and fees in the Sanchez-Ochoa case as well as $157,000 in damages and fees in the Olivera case

    "I wanted to make a difference for other people like me" said Mr. Antonio Sanchez Ochoa.

    Yakima County will continue to have a contract with federal authorities which permits it to hold people for immigration purposes when those individuals are physically presented by immigration officers.

    Judge Salvador Mendoza, Jr. previously found the federal contract did not permit the County to administratively transfer individuals into ICE custody.

    "We believe this is an important step forward," said Matt Adams, legal director for NWIRP. "City and County officers are not authorized to enforce immigration laws and may not hold people just because immigration officials ask them to do so."

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