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Judge dismisses challenge to Teller Co Sheriff's cooperation with ICE

Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell
ACLU files suit against Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell
Teller County Sheriff explains ICE agreement for jail
Posted at 8:49 AM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 11:14:30-04

TELLER COUNTY — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell for his cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In February 2019, the county signed a 287(g) agreement with federal authorities that calls for three of Sheriff Jason Mikesell’s deputies working in the Teller County Jail to undergo training to also work as immigration agents. A 287(g) agreement allows local authorities to help ICE in determining whether criminals brought into the jail are in the country legally. READ MORE

The ACLU of Colorado filed their latest legal challenge to the agreement in June 2019 on the behalf of six people in Teller County.
District Court Judge Scott Sells dismissed the suit on the basis that the plaintiffs "do not have taxpayer standing to bring this lawsuit and have not suffered an injury in fact to a legally protected interest."

The judge accepted the argument from Sheriff Mikesell that the plaintiffs cannot sue based on taxpayer status. The order granting motion to dismiss explains how the jail is funded by fees, not taxes, as it is operates as an enterprise, a government owned business.

READ THE FULL ORDER

We'll hear more from TCSO on the suit later today during a media availability.

The lawsuit challenged practices for arresting and holding people suspected, but not confirmed as illegal immigrants. The suit cited a new Colorado law that prohibits sheriffs and local law enforcement from holding people based solely on their immigration status.

There's no authority for a Colorado Sheriff to sign this kind of agreement with ICE,"ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein said last year.

One of the plaintiffs in the case, Michael Stewart, said we need a fair and humane immigration system. He said they are suing for a number of reasons, including "what they're doing with taxpayer money and how they're treating other human beings. All humans are created equal," said Stewart.

The motion to dismiss the lawsuit includes counterclaims that the plaintiffs did not have standing, that the program is funded with federal, not local tax money, and that federal law preempts local law in regards to immigration.

"The program is paid for by ICE," Mikesell said. "There's not been a dime spent on this program at this time, locally."

As the judge dismissed the case based on the standing of the plaintiffs, no other issues were addressed.