Gov. LePage's beef with sheriffs: the constitution, immigration, and federal law

Governor LePage ordered Maine sheriffs to comply with ICE detention requests and threatened to fire those who refuse. The law doesn't make that as simple as he suggests, and the sheriffs know it.

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- On Monday, Governor LePage told Fox News host Laura Ingraham in a radio interview he planned to issue an executive order to remove two sheriffs from their duties who he says won't work with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, or ICE.

The governor also revealed his administration asked ICE to investigate "a few organizations in the state of Maine."

On Tuesday, he followed through and sent letters to all 16 county sheriffs, "directing them to do their duty and cooperate with federal officials."

RELATED: LePage threatens to remove Maine sheriffs, asks ICE to investigate state's immigrant groups

 

LePage's concern

Ingraham asked LePage for the latest on refugee resettlement in Maine, which launched a discussion about keeping terrorists out of the state. His threat to fire sheriffs comes after Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce announced his department would no longer hold some inmates for immigration agents. Joyce said he found an issue of holding people, on what's known as a detainer request by ICE, to hold somebody in jail beyond releasing them after they could make bail.

What is a 'detainer'?

An ICE detainer form is a request ICE sends to a sheriff asking to hold certain jail inmates for no longer than 48 hours after their sentence is complete, or released from jail for any reason. The inmates are suspected to be in the country illegally, and the 48 hours gives ICE time to determine their immigration status.

RELATED: York County Sheriff: 'I'm not going to make any apologies' for not complying with ICE

The law

Under Article IX, Section 10 of Maine law, the Governor has the ability to remove the sheriff, but only after he officiates a hearing, which may only occur after someone files a formal complaint against a sheriff. The sheriff is then notified.

A Maine revised statute, title 30-A, Part 1, Chapter 1, Subchapter 6, Article 7 says that the complaint may come from the county commissioner in which that sheriff works. Governor LePage also referred to the provisions of Executive Order 001-2011 LePage signed in January of 2011, which orders, "Employees and officials of the State of Maine shall cooperate with employees and officials of the federal government on all matters pertinent to immigration, subject only to any limitations imposed by statutory law or by the Constitutions of Maine or the United States."

The Cumberland County Commissioners said they have not filed, and won't file, a complaint against Sheriff Joyce.

Despite this, a constitution lawyer told NEWS CENTER the law is unclear about whether the governor can act as both the complainant and the judge.


RELATED: Constitution lawyer questions governor's ability to remove sheriffs

Sheriffs respond

Joining Sheriff Joyce in denying LePage's order is York County Sheriff Bill King, who says he won't apologize for trying to save taxpayer dollars.

"There's a lot of issues coming at him," King said. "I understand it's a very difficult job. He's misinformed on this issue, and I think...if he would just stop talking about it and let us do our job."


Inmates with detainers

Franklin Salcedo, an inmate at the York County Jail, faces a number of charges after getting arrested in May of last year for drug trafficking. He says he has legal documentation, including a social security number, to prove he's a permanent resident of the country after immigrating from the Dominican Republic. Yet ICE agents issued a detainer for him.

"I asked what is the reason for it and they said they cannot tell me why," said Salcedo. "I have my resident card and everything. I have my social. I've worked here. I'm 100 percent sure I'm here legally."
 

 

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