Teller County Sheriff’s Office responds to ACLU lawsuit

Posted at 11:53 AM, Jul 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-27 13:53:51-04

Friday at 2:00 p.m., the Teller County Sheriff’s Office will hold a press conference to address a lawsuit filed by the ACLU against Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell.

The lawsuit alleges the Sheriff is violating Colorado law by holding an inmate for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) instead of allowing his release.

According to the ACLU, Leonardo Canseco is being held on two misdemeanor charges with a bond of $800. The lawsuit claims Sheriff Mikesell is keeping Canseco in jail until he can be picked up by ICE agents for possible deportation. 

“Colorado sheriffs have no authority to enforce federal immigration law,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “Being present in the country in violation of the immigration laws is a civil matter, not a crime. When Mr. Canseco posts his $800 bond for his minor misdemeanor charges, Colorado law requires the Sheriff to release him. Instead, at ICE’s request, the Sheriff plans to keep him in jail, without a warrant, without probable cause of a crime, and without any other valid legal authority.”

The ACLU filed a class action suit for the same issue last year against El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder. The lawsuit alleged dozens of people were being "unlawfully imprisoned" at the request of ICE.

District Court Judge Eric Bentley did order Sheriff Elder to release two ACLU clients. In 2014, ACLU of Colorado wrote a letter to Colorado sheriffs explaining that they have no legal authority to withhold prisoners based on ICE detainer requests.

According to a release, the County Sheriffs of Colorado issued a statement acknowledging the letter and claiming Colorado sheriffs do not have authority to enforce federal laws. The ACLU said by the end of 2016, more than 500 state and local law enforcement agencies around the country were declining to hold prisoners based on ICE immigration detainers and ICE administrative warrants.

The suit was filed in Teller County District Court and seeks and emergency order to ensure Canseco’s release from jail. To read the full complaint in its entirety, click here