Adam Gregg, the Republican challenging Democrat Tom Miller’s bid for a ninth term as Iowa’s attorney general, says Miller has offered bad legal advice to local officials about suspected illegal immigrants.
“Basically what the attorney general’s office advised was to throw open the jail house doors for potential illegal immigrants who are so bad that ICE has requested that they be held for an extra 48 hours so they come get them and potentially deport them,” Gregg says.
Miller says county attorneys were asking for legal guidance on the issue, because of the potential for lawsuits.
“The problem is the federal law didn’t require them to keep them for 48 hours,” Miller says. “If it required them, there probably wouldn’t be any liability with the federal law as protection, but it was just a request.”
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency sometimes asks local officials to hold immigrants 48 hours beyond their scheduled release date as the agency cross-checks records to see if that immigrant is a “criminal alien.” The American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups threaten lawsuits if there is no probable cause that a crime has been committed. Gregg says there are “practical steps” that could be taken to protect both public safety and the rights of individuals.
“For example, it could have been advice to work proactively with ICE,” Gregg says. “Let ICE know who’s in custody and what their anticipated release date is so ICE could start that process earlier and not need those extra 48 hours.”
Miller says his office was notifying county attorneys about “prospective liability” in these situations.
“I don’t think there are very many, if any, cases that hold that people can escape liability in this situation,” Miller says. “And it was a function to try and tell the county attorneys that this os an issue.”
The two men discussed the issue as they appeared together this morning for the taping of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program which will be broadcast Friday night.