On Wednesday April 16th, the City of Philadelphia passed a new policy on ICE detainers. Anyone convicted of a crime by the City of Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, AND is serving their sentence in a Philadelphia prison, will NOT be transferred to ICE when they’re released. In order to detain someone through the City’s prisons, ICE will need to get a “judicial warrant” of probable cause that another crime has been committed. They can no longer detain someone from the prisons only based on their immigration status. Philadelphia police and prison staff have been instructed to ignore all ICE detainer requests. Please review the details of the policy below so you and your family can be fully informed of your rights!
WHAT ARE ICE HOLDS?
ICE holds (aka “detainers”) are requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to a law enforcement agency (ie, the police or the prison system) to hold someone beyond the time at which they should be released, for up to 48 hours. ICE issues an ICE hold when it intends to take the person into custody and begin a deportation case against the person. ICE holds are issued by immigration officers and are not reviewed by a judge. It is not mandatory for law enforcement to turn people over to ICE—they can release the person if they choose to do so.
WHAT DOES THE NEW EXECUTIVE ORDER SAY ABOUT ICE HOLDS?
The Executive Order states that the Philadelphia police and the prisons should no longer use ICE holds, with one very narrow exception: where DHS obtains a judicial warrant to support the detainer, and where the person has a new conviction for a 1st or 2nd degree felony involving violence.
WHAT IS A JUDICIAL WARRANT?
A judicial warrant is an order signed by a judge or magistrate, based on evidence presented that supports a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed. A judicial warrant permits law enforcement to arrest a particular person. ICE has the authority to issue administrative warrants for deportation, however these warrants are not reviewed by a judge or magistrate and would not qualify under the new Executive Order. ICE would be required to obtain a judicial order from a judge or magistrate to support their ICE hold request.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PHILADELPHIA RESIDENTS?
In practice, this policy will end the use of ICE holds in the Philadelphia police department and the local prisons. Police and prison staff have been instructed to ignore ICE holds, and not to contact ICE regarding the release of an individual from the criminal system. ICE holds have been removed from the prison system database. When a person’s release date from a prison in Philadelphia is up, that person should be released to their family and not sent to ICE.
WHO DOES THIS POLICY PROTECT FROM ICE HOLDS?
- People who are stopped on the street by Philly police for any reason
- People who are convicted of any crime in Philadelphia who serve a sentence of less than two years or who receive a sentence of probation of any length of time
WHO IS NOT PROTECTED?
- People who are serving sentences that are longer than two years in state prison facilities
- People in the federal prison system
- People on probation or parole who are reported to ICE by their POs or who are picked up during a meeting with their PO
DOES THIS EXECUTIVE ORDER STOP DEPORTATION IN PHILADELPHIA?
Unfortunately not. ICE can still try to arrest people in their homes or on the street. If ICE approaches you or comes to your house, you have rights!
- You have the right to refuse to allow ICE into your house unless they have a signed warrant that lists the name of a person who lives in that house.
- You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions from ICE or the police.
- You have the right to hire an attorney to represent you.
WILL THE POLICE FOLLOW THIS EXECUTIVE ORDER?
We hope so, but the police often ignore the rules. If you know someone who was transferred to ICE on a detainer, please contact Caitlin Barry: firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-519-3216.
1Love Movement thanks our partners in the Philadelphia Family Unity Network – Juntos, New Sanctuary Movement, Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, and Victim/Witness Services of South Philadelphia – for the honor of our coalition work to put this policy in place. As well as, all the groups, organizations, and individuals, who paved the way over many years to bring us where we are today.