ALFRED, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Two sheriffs have come out publicly against the governor's order to comply with ICE requests.
First - here's exactly what an ICE detainer is, for clarification's sake.
It's a piece of paper - sent to sheriffs across the country by the federal organization ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) for certain jail inmates who are suspected for any reason to be in the U.S. illegally.
It says on the detainer request, "It is requested that you maintain custody of the subject for a period not to exceed 48 hours." That means that once a person finishes his or her sentence or is released from jail for any reason, sheriffs are asked to hold him or her in jail for an additional 48 hours to give ICE time to determine immigration status.
But - York County Sheriff Bill King says he won't do that.
"I'm not going to make any apologies for trying to save the taxpayers of York County money," he said. "And if I get removed as sheriff, that's [the governor's] prerogative."
The York County Sheriff is standing firm in his decision not to comply with ICE, despite open threats from the governor to fire him. The Governor's office made it official Tuesday - sending a letter ordering the sheriffs to detain any person requested by ICE.
But sheriffs Kevin Joyce (Cumberland County) and Bill King (York County) say no way. They say holding inmates for extra time only to determine their immigration status is unconstitutional, and has even led to serious lawsuits in other states.
King says he wants taxpayers to understand one thing. In his words, "The sheriffs that are not honoring ICE requests are doing so for [the taxpayers'] protection."
King says he doesn't fear for his job - but he does have one message for the governor. "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."
The Governor was very clear about the fact that he plans to take action against any sheriff who won't comply with ICE. According to his spokesperson, he has the constitutional right to do so. But an expert attorney on the Maine constitution says there's some serious gray area in the law.
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