WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) joined Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to introduce the Immigration Detainer Enforcement Act, legislation that will help stop sanctuary cities. The legislation would clarify the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) detainer authority, clearly establish the authority of states and localities to maintain custody in cases in which a detainer has been issued, and incentivize cooperation between law enforcement agencies and DHS through the reimbursement of certain detention, technology, and litigation-related costs.

This legislation follows the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act, which was introduced earlier this year to hold sanctuary jurisdictions accountable for failing to comply with lawful detainer and release notification requests made by federal authorities.

“Sanctuary jurisdictions provide havens for illegal aliens and put the safety of our citizens at risk. Legislation to protect the public is especially important in light of reports that Nashville is terminating its contract to house ICE detainees. We need to incentivize local law enforcement to work with – not against – our federal agencies to secure our border,” said Senator Blackburn.

“North Carolinians are rightfully disturbed that a handful of local sheriffs are putting politics ahead of public safety by implementing reckless sanctuary policies that release dangerous criminals back into our communities and make it harder for federal law enforcement to do their jobs,” said Senator Tillis. “I am proud to introduce this legislation to eliminate the excuse sheriffs are using to justify why they ignore detainer requests made by DHS. By clarifying their authority and incentivizing cooperation, we can better enforce our nation’s immigration laws and keep North Carolinians safe from dangerous criminals.”

“Sanctuary cities and jurisdictions jeopardize the safety of our communities when they refuse to cooperate with federal authorities and lawful immigration detainer requests. We’ve already seen the heartbreak and tragedy that can come from failing to take immigration detainers seriously, so I’ve long advocated for legislation that puts a stop to such reckless policies. Sen. Tillis’ bill takes important steps to help local, state and federal law enforcement better protect our communities,” Senator Grassley said.

The Senate bill is co-sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark).

The Immigration Detainer Enforcement Act:

  • Gives explicit authority to the arresting Federal, State, tribal, or local law enforcement agency to maintain custody of an illegal immigrant for a period not to exceed 48 hours to permit assumption of custody by the DHS, upon the issuance of a detainer.
  • Allows the federal government to enter into agreements with the arresting law enforcement agency to indemnify these agencies against wrongful detention claims by third parties which resulted from a detainer issued without reason to believe the individual is a removable illegal immigrant. Indemnification will not extend to claims relating to negligence or willful misconduct.
  • Makes jurisdictions ineligible for reimbursement of detention costs if they are certified by the DHS Secretary as being noncompliant with ICE.
  • Jurisdictions that are deemed incompliant by the DHS Secretary will not receive priority when being considered for funding from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program and when benefitting from the 1033 and 1122 programs.
Issues