In the most recent case brought against Sheriff Driscoll’s policy of honoring ICE “warrants” (also known as detainer requests), Judge Moran ruled that the plaintiff did not have legal standing to move the case forward. He did not rule that Driscoll’s policy of honoring ICE “warrants” was legal.
The plaintiff lacked legal standing because, at the very last moment, ICE withdrew its detainer request (its “warrant”). This was a cynical ploy on the part of ICE that has, for now, succeeded. It has prevented the courts from addressing the legal authority of “administrative warrants.”
Administrative warrants, unlike judicial warrants, are not signed by a judge. They are signed by an ICE official and are specifically directed to ICE employees. Because Driscoll is not an ICE employee, he is not obligated to enforce them.
More importantly, because these administrative warrants are not signed by an independent magistrate (a judge) they do not empower Driscoll to deprive an individual of his or her liberty. The framers of our constitution took great care to protect individual liberty and to limit the power of government. The Bill of Rights makes it clear that law enforcement cannot search our homes or imprison us without a judicial warrant. An “administrative warrant” does not rise to this constitutional standard.
Eventually, Mr. Driscoll’s policy will be heard before a judge and will be determined to be illegal. In the meantime, it will continue to separate families, make our community less safe and spend down our tax dollars.