TELLER COUNTY – A select group of Teller County Sheriff’s deputies will soon receive training to also work as immigration agents for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The two agencies reaching a 287(g) agreement, which is a certified agreement through the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security to allow the local law enforcement agency jurisdiction over immigration enforcement within its boundaries.
Deputies won’t be able to conduct the entire deportation process, but they will help ICE get it started. Permitted actions include questioning inmates about their immigration status, serving arrest warrants on immigration violations and issuing immigration detainers.
Per the agreement, the sheriff’s office will foot the bill for training, salaries and benefits for the deputies that will help ICE. ICE will pay for specific technology needed to use the Teller County Jail as an ICE facility.
It comes as the Teller County Sheriff’s Office is being sued by American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Colorado over its detainer of a man in 2018.
At a press conference in July, Sheriff Jason Mikesell said his office wasn’t motivated politically in holding the man, Leonardo Conseco, past his normal sentence at the request of ICE. He said it’s about showing solidarity to federal law enforcement partners.
“I’m holding criminals in my jail. We are not conducting roundup operations, nor will we ever do such a thing,” he said.
The Teller County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on this story, citing the pending litigation.
ACLU Colorado, however, is opposed to the deal.
Legal Director Mark Silverstein said he believes Mikesell is breaking state law, as Colorado law does not permit sheriffs to enforce immigration laws.
“The sheriff is signing up to do the federal government’s job at the expense of taxpayers and without any reimbursement from ICE,” Silverstein said.
Silverstein said he also worries about community safety moving forward. He said more crimes will go unreported in the county because of the office’s connection to ICE.
“When local law enforcement is viewed as a funnel into the deportation network, immigrants are more hesitant to report crime,” Silverstein said.