The sheriff of Suffolk County, New York, announced that his jurisdiction will no longer require a judge’s order when complying with federal immigration law when federal immigration authorities request the detention of an illegal immigrant. Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco denied that the switch is not in response to the expected legal fight between the federal government and so-called “sanctuary” cities and other jurisdictions once President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January. “Sanctuary” cities are those that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in detaining illegal aliens, some with criminal charges, when requested.
The policy reversal has already yielded seven illegal immigrants who were taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during the December 1-20 period. DeMarco claims that the policy switch came only after careful “legal analysis.” DeMarco admitted his approval, however, of Trump’s stated goal of focusing on criminal aliens. He said, according to Newsday, “I do believe this is good public policy because it focuses on criminals.” He added, “We’re talking about people who entered the country illegally and have committed crimes and have been convicted of crimes.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone agreed with DeMarco. “I opposed open-ended detainer requests because, among other things, they placed an enormous burden on local government to spend millions on incarceration to cover unfunded mandates.” He said, “However, Suffolk County works closely with federal law enforcement, and a limited, 48-hour detainer represents a step in the right direction.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions -- who Trump has named to serve as attorney general, is poised to take on local and state authorities who flout federal law. Some experts believe that more locals can be expected to follow Suffolk County’s lead.