Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood said his office properly carried out its duty when it released a Carrboro resident who a Superior Court Judge determined “had served the length of his sentence.”
The sheriff issued the response Wednesday after a news release from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency this week criticized the sheriff’s office for its “refusal to honor ICE’s detainer” on the suspect.
ICE arrested Uriel Aguilar-Castellanos at his Carrboro home on Monday, July 23. His arrest came after he entered a guilty plea in Orange County court on two counts of sexual battery as part of a plea deal with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. He was released from the Orange County Detention Center on June 27.
Blackwood said Wednesday that Aguilar-Castellanos was released “as required by the constitutions of the United States and North Carolina and in accordance with current caselaw.”
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office has not typically honored ICE detainer requests during Blackwood’s tenure, and local police departments have not prioritized immigration status in their enforcement efforts. Local authorities have maintained they are able to make their jurisdictions safer by working with all residents of the community, rather than cooperating fully with ICE requests.
An immigration detainer was placed on Aguilar-Castellanos when Carrboro Police brought him to the detention center on September 8, 2017, according to the sheriff’s office.
“Aguilar spent close to 300 days in custody awaiting resolution of his charges,” Blackwood said in the response from the sheriff’s office. “At any point during that time, Immigration and Customs Enforcement was able to assume custody of Mr. Aguilar; however, that option was not exercised.”
The response also said that a detention center official “contacted DHS by telephone at the phone number provided in the detainer with no response.”
Blackwood contended that honoring the detainer requests would open the sheriff’s office up to lawsuit.
“Neither an immigration detainer or an administrative warrant is issued by a judge or judicial officer, and subsequently lack the probable cause necessary to hold someone in custody,” Blackwood said. “Doing otherwise is unconstitutional and in violation of an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights, which would subject the Sheriff and the County to civil liability.”
Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews honors ICE detainers when the agency asks that an individual be held for 48 hours. The American Civil Liberties Union criticizes this practice as a way to “imprison people without due process.”
Andrews argued that honoring the detainer requests was an effort to keep ICE from otherwise operating in the community. Andrews lost his re-election bid in this year’s primary to a candidate who promised to end the practice of honoring the detainers.
Some local elected officials recently signed on to a letter calling for the abolishment of ICE due to the actions currently taking place at the United States southern border as well as ICE raids conducted earlier this year in Orange County.