Billings police uphold ICE detainer policies

The ACLU of Montana and partner groups issued a joint statement today pertaining to a federal filing about an immigration case originating out of Gallatin county.

In their statement, the ACLU of Montana criticizes the new immigration polices, specifically ice detainer policies.

The ACLU of Montana argues the Trump administration has been given broad, and in some cases unreviewable discretion to target people for detention. 

Chief Rich St. John says while Billings police do honor detainer requests by ICE, they are not going to do anything that doesn't follow their procedures. 

"We're not going to do anything different than what we normally do," said St. John. "We are not going to be actively patrolling and sweeping the streets for any undocumented individuals. We're not asking for immigration status unless there's probable cause to do or unless they're under arrest or detained for questioning."

While there is no legal requirement for local officers to respond to a detainer request, St. John says they are simply doing their job. 

"Again if it's somebody that needs to be in jail, the sheriff will make room," St. John adds. "If not other arranges will be made and that holds true for other immigration status violations as well."

St. John says he wants to make it clear any thought they are deputized to do federal work is false and enforcement of immigration laws fall solely to ICE, and Billings police have no authority to do so. 

"We are not actively enforcing immigration laws. If we come upon something, we'll make notifications if appropriate," St. John said. "We'll make detentions if requested but other than that, it's business as usual for the police department."


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