PORTLAND, Maine — The Cumberland County Jail will no longer hold inmates beyond their release date at the request of federal immigration agents, becoming the first facility in Maine to end the controversial practice.
The policy change comes as President Donald Trump’s administration has ramped up immigration arrests throughout New England and begun using aggressive enforcement tactics not previously seen in Maine.
In Sept. 14 letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s South Portland office, Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce wrote that his department would no longer honor the agency’s requests to hold people beyond their scheduled release dates.
These requests, known as detainers, place jails in precarious situations. Although frequently made by ICE, federal courts have ruled that the requests do not carry the force of law. And in several wrongful imprisonment suits, sheriffs have had to pay tens of thousands of dollars for honoring them.
Holding someone who could make bail just because ICE asked them to “could violate the individual’s Fourth Amendment right and we could ultimately be sued for false imprisonment,” Joyce said.