City of Las Vegas detains hundreds of people for ICE, group says

By: - March 28, 2019 3:22 pm

One page of a public document from the City of Las Vegas Department of Public Safety listing detainers from Jan. 1, 2017 to Feb. 28, 2019. The document was released by Arriba Las Vegas Worker Center.

Over a 26-month period, Immigration and Customs Enforcement picked up more than 1,000 people from under the custody of the City of Las Vegas Department of Public Safety, according to a workers rights organization.

ICE detainer list
Page 1 of a 27-page public document from the City of Las Vegas Department of Public Safety listing detainers from Jan. 1, 2017 to Feb. 28, 2019. The document was released by Arriba Las Vegas Worker Center, a grassroots organization focused on day laborers, domestic workers and other low-wage and migrant workers.

Arriba Las Vegas Workers Center says that since 2017, the Department of Public Safety, which manages the city jail, has “consistently engaged” in immigration enforcement activities, including notifying ICE of detained individuals and their release dates, and holding people on immigration detainers (commonly referred to as ICE holds). The group’s data comes from documents and information obtained by Arriba and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network via public records requests.

Some of the documents obtained are now available online.

One document from May 2017 details an internal policy of informing ICE about any foreign-born person who is arrested and booked. The documents do not mention any differing treatment depending on the severity of the alleged crime for which the person has been arrested.

Among the other findings: From Jan. 1, 2017 to Feb. 28, 2019, the City of Las Vegas provided ICE with information resulting in detainers for 1,680 people.

Of those, ICE picked up 1,139 — or 67.8 percent — of them.

Arriba also found that 58 percent of people transferred to ICE were done so before their cases were closed by a local judge.

Arriba estimates the taxpayer cost of engaging in these activities is more than $200,000. That number was calculated by adding up the number of nights people were detained on an ICE hold after they would otherwise have been released. That money is not reimbursed by federal funds.

In a press release, Jessica Karp Bansal, co-legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said: “The records released today show that the City of Las Vegas is spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to facilitate deportations. By detaining people on legally suspect ICE detainers, the city is also exposing itself to significant legal liability.”

A spokesperson for the City of Las Vegas declined via email to respond to the Arriba claims and allegations, “due to the possibility of possible legal action.”

Immigration advocates nationwide are increasingly pushing for local law enforcement agencies to stop complying with voluntary programs that aide ICE. They argue the practice is a waste of local resources and a public safety issue. Studies have found that local law enforcement’s involvement with ICE makes Latinos of any immigration status far less likely to report crimes or information about crimes.

A proposed bill by Assemblyman Edgar Flores in the Nevada Legislature, AB281, would prohibit state or local law enforcement agencies from detaining a person because of immigration enforcement, “except where there is an independent finding of probable cause.” A hearing for that bill is scheduled Friday  morning in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

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April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus

April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, two children and two mutts.