Legal Director Doug Bonney 
(816) 994-3311 (direct), [email protected] 

Kansas City, MO – Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Kansas received a letter from the Shawnee County, Kansas, Department of Corrections, advising the ACLU that Shawnee County will no longer automatically honor requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold a person without probable cause.  Courts around the country have found that such requests are unconstitutional and that local law enforcement may be held liable for money damages for complying with them.  Similarly, the sheriffs in Johnson and Finney Counties have indicated that they will no longer automatically honor ICE detainer requests without a warrant or other adequate showing of probable cause. 

“[W]e have ceased recognizing any “probable cause” authority in the I-247 form, and have notified ICE of our decision,” wrote Brian W. Cole, Director of the Shawnee County Department of Corrections. “It is our desire never to hold a person beyond the period for which proper lawful authority exists.” 

“I thank Director Cole for his prompt and studied attention to this important problem,” said Doug Bonney, Chief Counsel and Legal Director for the ACLU Foundation of Kansas. “Courageous acts like his keep the spirit of the Constitution alive.” 

The ACLU Foundation of Kansas recently sent letters to county sheriffs across Kansas explaining some of the risks associated with honoring warrantless detention requests from ICE. In those letters, the ACLU Foundation of Kansas highlighted that an ICE detainer is not a warrant; it is not approved by a judge. It does not mean that there has been a finding about the person's immigration status; in fact, many ICE detainers have been issued against U.S. citizens. 

Several counties across the country have recently found themselves facing lawsuits after honoring requests from the federal government to hold suspected undocumented immigrants. The ACLU is working with law enforcement across Kansas and across the country to protect the taxpayers, the community, and the Constitution.

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More information can be found in the ACLU’s latest blog post about Kansas joining in the national trend by refusing to risk liability suits for detaining individuals without a warrant or probable cause:

News Coverage

"ACLU: Shawnee County jail to stop holding immigrants without probable cause"Topeka Capital-Journal, 06/09/2014

"3 counties to stop holding immigrants without probable cause, ACLU of Kansas says", The Republic, 06/10/2014

"Local police say no to federal agency",, 06/10/2014

"Sedgwick County Jail won't hold inmates suspected of illegal immigrancy",, 06/11/2014

"ICE policy creates liability issues"Topeka Capital-Journal, 06/11/2014

"Sheriff's Office may change ICE detainee policy"Leavenworth Times, 06/11/2014

"Sheriffs Defy Feds By Refusing To Honor “Detainer” Requests For Immigrants", MintPress News, 06/17/2014