Dozens of sheriffs around the country are refusing to detain noncitizens convicted of crimes for extra time to allow the federal government to start deportation proceedings after a court ruling that one immigrant's civil rights had been violated when she was held without probable cause.
"When a judge says something is in violation of the Fourth Amendment, I am not going to just keep doing it," Sheriff William Gore of San Diego told The New York Times. "If they want to take someone into federal custody, the can decide to do that, but I am not going to keep holding somebody because they ask me to, and nothing more than that."
But the local decisions could limit the how the government enforces immigration law while decreasing the numbers of people deported each year.
Sheriffs started refusing to honor the federal detainee policy that asks them to hold inmates for up to 48 hours without probable cause for a criminal violation after this spring's ruling by a federal judge in Oregon.
The refusal quickly spread, with noncitizen offenders getting released as soon as they have done their time, rather than being held for the Department of Homeland Security.
Many of the sheriffs in California, Minnesota, Kansas, and Washington, as well as Oregon, said the court decision forced their action in the interest of self-protection, rather than anything to do with their positions on immigration.
In June, California Attorney General Kamala Harris sent out an advisory telling law enforcement departments they could face lawsuits if they abide by the federal government's detainer requests.