Hennepin County Sheriff Under Fire for Cooperation with ICE

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek struggles to find consensus on immigration.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman give press conference on the release of DDOR DHS report. Image Credit: Preya Samsundar/Alpha News MN

MINNEAPOLIS – Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek has come under fire recently for his cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Earlier this year, Stanek was criticized for not cooperating enough with ICE. Back in March, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office was one of 50 counties singled out by the federal government for failing to honor ICE requests. According to the Declined Detainer Outcome Report, two individuals from Mexico were arrested in Minneapolis on February 1 on drug and weapons offenses. ICE officials were notified of the arrests, and requested the individuals be detained until they could be taken into custody.

However, back in 2014, Stanek’s office announced they would no longer be honoring federal detainer requests without a judge’s order. Instead of holding the two individuals for ICE, Stanek notified immigration officials that the individuals would be released Feb 4, and ICE arrested them.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office pushed back on the report in a statement on Facebook saying the memo was “incorrect in many ways” and their agency cooperates with ICE to the “fullest extent of the law.”

Now Stanek is receiving criticism from the county officials who say his office is doing too much to help ICE officials.

Despite not honoring detainers, Stanek’s office does cooperate with ICE by notifying the agency when deputies book foreign-born inmates. Under Minnesota law, deputies are required to ask inmates their place of birth and citizenship. They are then allowed to report any foreign-born inmates to ICE. Sometimes inmates are asked if they will take a phone call from immigration officials, according to the Star Tribune.

Mary Moriarty, Hennepin County’s chief public defender, believes Stanek is going “above and beyond” in his cooperation with ICE.

“What the sheriff is doing is making it much easier for ICE to target our clients,” Moriarty told the Star Tribune.

The Star Tribune also reported Hennepin County Commissioner Marion Greene has asked Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison to write Stanek a letter demanding further information on how his office cooperates with ICE.

At booking, inmates fingerprints are shared with a state database and eventually are made available to federal agencies. Without the Sheriff’s Office alerting ICE of the arrest, the agency would only be notified if the inmate previously had prior contact with immigration officials.

Despite the criticism from both sides, Stanek is not backing down, acknowledging he cannot please everybody.

“We’ve been very clear: There is no sanctuary for criminals anywhere in Hennepin County,” Stanek told the Star Tribune.

Christine Bauman