Hennepin County will no longer honor warrants for illegal immigrants

This change effectively makes Minneapolis a sanctuary city, as the sheriff's office will no longer cooperate with ICE to apprehend illegal aliens.

Hennepin County Sheriff/Imgur

The Hennepin County sheriff will no longer honor warrants issued for illegal immigrants by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

David Hutchinson is the sheriff in Hennepin County, Minnesota’s largest county which includes Minneapolis. He has ordered his jail to stop honoring immigration detainer warrants, removed the ICE office from the Hennepin County Jail and has stopped alerting the agency when illegals are released from custody, according to the Star Tribune.

“With the exception of when ICE has a judicial warrant for a person’s arrest, we no longer talk to ICE. That is all in the past. But, we will allow ICE agents into the jail on request,” the sheriff announced, according to the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.

David Hutchinson. (Image Credit: Hennepin County Sheriff)
David Hutchinson/Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.

The effect of this new policy is that the types of warrants DHS and ICE can issue, administrative warrants, will no longer be honored. Instead, the sheriff will only honor judicial warrants issued by a judge. This change means that if an illegal or somebody else who DHS or ICE has issued a warrant for is arrested by local authorities, that suspect will be dealt with in regard to his/her local crimes only — the federal agencies’ warrants will not be honored nor will the agencies be notified that a suspect they’re looking for has been apprehended.

Although Hutchinson says his agency hasn’t “received any blowback from ICE,” per the Tribune, Fight Back News reports that ICE now considers the Hennepin County Sherriff’s Office to be “noncompliant.”

Hutchinson’s new policy was announced in a meeting with a coalition of local groups, including Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, Jewish Community Action, Coalition of Asian American Leaders, Black Immigrant Collective, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Release MN8, and Unidos MN, according to Fight Back. These groups were all organized in their campaign against DHS and ICE by a group called Decriminalizing Communities, which has long fought for local law enforcement to cease compliance with federal immigration agencies.

Despite their recent victory, Decriminalizing Communities is not content. ICE agents are still allowed to enter the Hennepin County Jail and question detainees. Activists say this is unacceptable and that “this too must end.”

Meanwhile, some are concerned that the sheriff’s noncompliance could lead to dangerous individuals being released. “We have some very tough customers that are coming in. A decision to not comply with an order or refuse to detain somebody could hinder public safety,” notes Republican Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, per the tribune.

ICE also says it “relies upon the cooperation of local law enforcement officials to expeditiously remove dangerous criminals from our communities.” When local law enforcement agencies “release illegal criminal aliens without notifying ICE, it is a decision to protect and release criminals who are preying on victims in our communities,” the agency continues. It also characterizes municipalities that choose to not cooperate as sanctuary cities.

Hennepin County’s new policy probably does not mean the end of immigration enforcement in Minneapolis. When New York City took a similar stance, ICE responded by simply putting more agents on the ground to compensate for a lack of local cooperation. As a result, arrests actually increased.

However, the agency notes that this approach, though necessary in noncompliant areas, creates extra risk for all involved: “There is an inherent increase in risk to personnel and bystanders when ICE officers and agents must go out into the community to proactively locate these previously detained criminal aliens,” the agency says.