The War on Cooperation with ICE

Press Releases

August 17, 2018

IRLI supports communities sued by illegal alien

WASHINGTON—The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee, in a lawsuit brought by an alien housed in the local jail at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE had arrested the alien, Abdullah Abriq, after determining that he was likely removable. ICE then asked the local jail to hold him for a brief time until ICE could take custody of him again.

Mr. Abriq claims that the county violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which forbids unreasonable searches and seizures, by holding him in the local jail without a written agreement between the county and ICE deputizing local officers as immigration agents. Mr. Abriq also claims that he could not be detained without probable cause to believe he had committed a criminal offense. Previously, the court hearing the case, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, had found that Mr. Abriq would probably prevail on these claims. In its brief, IRLI urges the court to change its mind.

Since the court’s first ruling, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (a higher court than any district court in the federal hierarchy, but not directly above this district court) reached a diametrically opposed conclusion, roundly upholding local compliance with ICE detention requests even without a written agreement. Relying in part on this decision, IRLI reminded the district court that a written agreement is not necessary when local jurisdictions merely cooperate with ICE, rather than act on their own, and that probable cause to believe a crime has been committed is not necessary when ICE arrests a removable alien for violating civil immigration laws and asks a local jail to hold the alien for a short time. The central concern of the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness, and it is unreasonable to require suspicion of criminal activity in the enforcement of civil immigration law.

“IRLI will not stand by and let local jurisdictions face unwarranted judicial activism because they choose to comply with federal law by cooperating with ICE,” stated Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “The idea that probable cause of criminal activity is necessary when detaining an alien is a complete legal fallacy that open borders groups have passed off as the rule of law. It is IRLI’s job to remind the court of what the law is, not what activist lawyers wish it was.”

The case is Abriq v. Nashville, No. 3:17-cv-0690 (M.D. Tenn.).

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • blonergan@irli.org

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