After alleged child abuser is released on bond, agencies point fingers

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office agreed that there was a detainer request submitted for undocumented immigrant Francisco Chavez after he was arrested for child abuse. However, there seems to be confusion when it comes to what was supposed to happen before his release.

The detainer request says ICE officials would like law enforcement to “maintain custody of the subject for a period not to exceed 48 hours…beyond the time when the subject would have been otherwise released.”

The California State Sheriff’s Association says doing this would expose local law enforcement agencies to lawsuits and violate the U.S. Constitution.

“It puts the sheriff’s in a box, quite honestly, a very difficult position. We are left with no choice but to make those releases if we don’t have a court order to hold them beyond their regularly scheduled release date,” the association’s president and Amador County Sheriff Martin Ryan told KSBY News over the phone Wednesday.

Sheriff Ryan says the detainer request isn’t a mandate and without a federal warrant, the San Luis Obispo County Jail had no choice but to release Chavez when he posted bail Friday. He points to a 2014 federal court decision in Oregon when a judge found that an undocumented woman’s constitutional rights had been violated after being held past her release date and without probable cause.

“She later filed suit saying her rights under the U.S. Constitution — keeping in mind our constitution applies to all persons in our country regardless of whether they’re here under lawful terms or not — that her rights under the Fourth Amendment were violated by her being held without probable cause,” San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow explained.

Sheriff Ryan says the association has been in talks with federal officials for years about putting protections in place.

“It’s a complicated problem. Right now we’re exposed liability-wise wide open with regards to where the system is right now,” Ryan said. “I think it’s just bureaucracy right now. I think part of it may be the lack of resources at the federal level to do what is necessary in our opinion to issue court orders on these individuals.”

ICE officials say law enforcement is misunderstanding federal immigration law, and no federal court will issue a warrant for a request that is considered administrative, not criminal, in nature.

Regardless, ICE officials say they were not notified prior to Chavez’s release, as per requested on the detainer form so they could intercept him. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office says it’s looking into this claim by ICE officials.

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