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Nevada Sheriff Restricts Immigration Holds

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2014

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Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, delatorre@nilc.org

Clark County Sheriff Places Public Safety Over Politics, Restricts Immigration Holds in County

Move comes after months of advocacy from National Immigration Law Center, UNLV Law Clinic, and Holland & Knight LLP

LAS VEGAS — Following the prelitigation efforts of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the Immigration Clinic at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law, and Holland & Knight LLP, Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie announced that his department would no longer enforce most U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds, also known as ICE holds or immigration detainers. These holds, which request that local law enforcement detain immigrants who are potentially removable, have come under increasing scrutiny across the country.

“With this move, Clark County joins dozens of other states and localities that have determined what we already know: These hold policies that allow people to be detained for weeks at a time, are not constitutionally defensible,” said Melissa Keaney, staff attorney of the National Immigration Law Center. “We hope news of Clark County’s about-face on detainers reaches the ears of officials in Washington, DC, who for too long have advocated for this clearly broken policy of turning local law enforcement officers into de facto immigration agents.”

“Today’s news is win-win for all Clark County residents, regardless of where they were born, said Professor Fatma Marouf of the UNLV Immigration Clinic. “By disentangling itself from immigration enforcement activities, Sheriff Gillespie has sent a strong message to immigrants that they should not fear coming forward as victims of — or witnesses to — crime. As a result, public safety will improve for all residents.”

Since 2001, the Clark County Detention Center and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department have operated under a practice of refusing to accept bail from pretrial inmates who are the subject to ICE holds. Sheriff Gillespie's announcement represents a significant and welcome change in the Sheriff Department's policy and NILC, UNLV Immigration Clinic, and Holland & Knight applaud the sheriff's decision.

“After months of prelitigation efforts, we are pleased to see that Sheriff Gillespie has decided to do what’s best for his community by refusing to honor ICE hold requests in most cases,” said Robert Barton, associate at Holland & Knight LLP. “Draconian detention practices tear at the fabric of our society and undermine the values enshrined in our Constitution. This announcement should be considered a victory for all those who believe in protecting the freedoms outlined by our nation’s founders.”

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