Ruling: State, Local Officers Can't Make Immigration Arrests

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — State and local law enforcement officers in Montana do not have the authority to arrest people on federal civil immigration detainers, the Montana Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

“This is a major victory for immigrants in Montana,” Alex Rate, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, said in a statement. “Immigrants throughout Montana must be treated the same as every other individual who is charged with a crime. They will enjoy the presumption of innocence, have the right to post bail and be free pending trial, and be free to step out from underneath the boot of over-aggressive federal immigration officials

The 7-0 ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Montana and others against Lincoln County in October 2018 after Agustin Ramon — a dual resident of Mexico and France — was arrested on charges of stealing prescription medication from a neighbor’s house in Eureka in August 2018.

Ramon’s bail was set at $25,000. But he did not post bond because the sheriff said he would comply with a Department of Homeland Security request to detain Ramon on their behalf for up to another 48 hours after any potential release date.

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