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Reps. Peter King, Lee Zeldin urge county sheriffs to honor ICE detainers

Representatives Lee Zeldin and Peter King in Brentwood

Representatives Lee Zeldin and Peter King in Brentwood , Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Republican Reps. Lee Zeldin and Peter King on Thursday urged the Nassau and Suffolk County sheriffs to comply with all federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests and maintain ICE's presence in correctional facilities. 

In a letter to Suffolk Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. and Nassau Sheriff Vera Fludd, Zeldin, of Shirley, and King, of Seaford, expressed "deep concerns" about a state appellate ruling that said state and local law enforcement have no authority to arrest and detain people on behalf of ICE for deportation purposes.

"This decision by the Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court will set a dangerous precedent for sanctuary jurisdictions to legally deny compliance with ICE officials," the letter said. "Sanctuary policies that allow criminal illegal immigrants to evade justice should be denounced." 

The case originated in Suffolk after former county Sheriff Vincent F. DeMarco instituted a policy of detaining for up to 48 hours any person who was subject to an ICE warrant. 

Zeldin and King asked the sheriffs to take steps including:

  • Reinstating the previous Suffolk policy and complying with ICE detainer requests, while "notifying ICE ideally 48 hours in advance of releasing an individual unlawfully in the United States who is arrested on criminal charges."
  • Allowing ICE to "take custody of the arrestee" and prevent "them from being released into the community."
  • Maintaining ICE’s "presence within local correctional facilities."

Suffolk sheriff's spokeswoman Kristin MacKay said Toulon, "Toulon has gone on the record about this in the past and we have no further comments to make on the subject at this time.

In a November directive to staff, Toulon said, "As per the County Attorney, Dennis Brown, the practice of detaining a person cleared of the local charge pursuant to a warrant and detainer is an unlawful new arrest. This practice shall cease immediately."

Fludd did not comment directly on the Zeldin-King letter. However, she restated county jail policy of giving ICE agents the ability to "access" inmates, and notifying ICE, "whenever an individual with a detainer or warrant is initially being processed for release . . . "

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced late last month she would allow ICE agents to remain for the time being in a trailer at the county's jail in East Meadow while she reviewed the agency's proposal for permanent quarters on jail grounds

County officials originally had asked the agents to leave without offering them a new location, but then said they could relocate to the neighboring Nassau University Medical Center.

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