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Sheriff disputes ICE determination Hennepin County was uncooperative

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Vicente Guerrero-Fernandez and Julio Salazar Vega leaving jail
This photo from by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office shows Vicente Guerrero-Fernandez, second from left, and Julio Salazar Vega, third from left, leaving the county jail in the custody of ICE agents on Feb. 3.
Courtesy of Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Sheriff Rich Stanek strongly disputes Hennepin County's inclusion on federal list of uncooperative jurisdictions, and showed photos he says prove two Mexican men left jail in the custody of immigration agents. The sheriff says that contradicts a statement federal officials released on Monday. 

Under the headline "Public Safety Advisory," Immigration and Customs Enforcement this week issued its first Declined Detainer Outcome Report. 

The notice stems from an executive order from President Trump that requires Homeland Security to publicize a list of "criminal actions committed by aliens" along with jurisdictions that ignored detainer requests from ICE. 

The list includes two people from Mexico jailed in Hennepin County and released last month. But Stanek says the implication the men were simply let out onto the streets of downtown Minneapolis is misleading. 

"Both inmates were released, and ICE took them directly into custody on Feb. 3 at approximately 10:15 p.m.," Stanek said.

One of the men — who's 29 years old — had been held on suspicion of having drugs. The other, 47, was suspected of illegal weapon possession. 

ICE says it requested the jail hold the men until immigration agents could pick them up. Stanek contends such detainer requests are illegal unless they come with a court order. While jail staff won't hold someone without a judge's OK, Stanek says his office cooperates with ICE on a regular basis. 

Vicente Guerrero-Fernandez and Julio Salazar Vega leaving jail
This photo from by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office shows Vicente Guerrero-Fernandez, second from left, and Julio Salazar Vega, third from left, leaving the county jail in the custody of ICE agents on Feb. 3.
Courtesy of Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

In this case, the sheriff says deputies gave immigration a heads up before releasing the men. To drive home his point, Stanek released photos of the men leaving the jail with two ICE agents.

"The photographs here, the video images, speak for themselves. I have talked with ICE about this, they know that we have these, they know that we have talked with them, as yet though, they haven't said boo about it," Stanek said.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman urged ICE to correct the record.

"To be fair, we all make mistakes. ICE made a big one here, and I think the sheriff is due an apology," Freeman said.

In a statement, ICE spokesperson Shawn Neudauer did not offer an apology, but said the agency values its relationships with law enforcement. 

And he pushed back on Stanek's assertion that detainer requests are illegal. Neudauer says the documents give sheriff's offices the legal authority to hold people in the country illegally for up to 48 hours. He says the requests are necessary so ICE agents have time to respond. 

At the news conference, Stanek did not criticize Trump or his immigration policy. Stanek — a Republican — met the president during a law enforcement meeting at the White House last month. After the gathering, he praised Trump's stance on public safety and said sheriffs "have the president's back."