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Judge hears arguments in lawsuit involving ACLU and Teller County Sheriff

Posted at 6:56 PM, Aug 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-15 21:05:08-04

EL PASO COUNTY- Representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Teller County Sheriff appeared in court Wednesday afternoon, as a lawsuit is underway relating to a decision to jail an undocumented inmate at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

A judge will need to decide whether or not the sheriff’s office can hold Canseco if he posts bond.

Leonardo Canseco is charged with two misdemeanors, the arrest that brought him to the Teller County jail involved the Colorado Division of Gaming.

According to the ACLU, the arrest stemmed from Canseco taking $8.25 from a slot machine left behind by the last person who used the machine.

Additionally, Canseco was charged for criminal possession of a federal ID card.

Leonardo Canseco-Salinas
Leonardo Canseco-Salinas


The bond posted for Canseco is $800.

However, if he Canseco were to post bond, he could face additional challenges- which serve as the basis for the lawsuit.

‘We argued that Colorado Sheriff’s do not have any authority to enforce the civil provisions of federal immigration law,’ said Mike Silverstein, Legal Director for ACLU Colorado.

‘When people post bond, the sheriff has the obligation under Colorado law to release the person who posts bond, the sheriff plans to continue to hold our client,’ said Silverstein.

The ACLU says by the Sheriff continuing to hold Canseco, it constitutes a new arrest that the sheriff doesn’t have the authority to make.

The Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell says he received a detainer request from ICE to hold Canseco if he posts bond.

Sheriff Mikesell says he could hold Canseco for up to 48 hours, the longest the Sheriff’s Office has ever held an inmate for ICE is for 12 hours, the shortest time being 3 minutes.

‘This is a nation wide issue and there needs to be a decision made about it,’ said Mikesell, ‘we’re not holding people because we want to, we’re not holding because they’ve been rounded up and brought in- that’s not what’s happening,’ said Sheriff Mikesell to reporters Wednesday afternoon.

Still, the ACLU argued in court that Sheriff Mikesell doesn’t have the authority to enforce federal immigration law as the sheriff of Teller County.

Sheriff Mikesell agreed in court that he does not have the power to enforce federal immigration law, but said keeping Canesco in jail by ICE’s request is out of consideration for the safety of people in Teller County.

Sheriff Mikesell says Canesco’s criminal history is a concern for the community, what his criminal history is- the sheriff is staying tight-lipped about.

‘There’s a lot of folks that come into my jail that ICE and immigration does not hold, in fact more so than not,’ said Sheriff Mikesell. ‘If we released everyone that the ACLU wanted us to release, I wouldn’t have anybody in my jails at this point.’

The judge will review proposed orders by both the ACLU and the Teller County Sheriff at the end of this week.

A ruling is expected within the next week.