Sioux County, Iowa — Back in 2015 we told you that the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office had been named to a list of Sanctuary Counties by the Center for Immigration Studies, due to their policy to not honor detainers issued by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. At the time Sioux County Sheriff Dan Altena told KIWA that his jail was prohibited by law from detaining prisoners beyond the length of time they were sentenced to be in his jail. With the illegal immigration position of the new Trump Administration, we decided to see how the administration’s policies would affect Sioux County, and other jails on the Center for Immigration Studies’ list.
We talked to Iowa 4th District Congressman Steve King who told us that he has sent a letter to all 22 of the Iowa counties named on that list, and he says he’s “hopeful” that the situation can be worked out between the counties and the federal government. King expressed his personal opinion that it’s wrong for local law enforcement to refuse to cooperate with federal law enforcement.
Sioux County Sheriff Dan Altena says his office cooperates with all other law enforcement, but he can’t honor an ICE Detainer when it’s been ruled illegal for him to do so.
We asked Altena why ICE didn’t seek Arrest Warrants for those in the country illegally, rather than Detainers.
He says sometimes ICE doesn’t issue a Detainer or a Warrant.
Altena stressed that ICE doesn’t pick up all illegal immigrants.
On Tuesday of this week a bill passed out of the Iowa House Public Safety Committee that would ban Iowa cities and counties, as well as public schools and universities from providing sanctuary for illegal immigrants. Altena says he consulted the Sioux County Attorney about whether the bill, if it becomes law, would affect the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office.
For his part, Sheriff Altena says he wishes Congress would give some direction on holding illegal immigrants.