Enforcement

New Phoenix sheriff changes jail rule for immigrants flagged for deportation

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone in a 2012 photo.

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone in a 2012 photo.  (REUTERS/Joshua Lott)

Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s successor in Phoenix says he won’t hold immigrants flagged for deportation by federal authorities past their release date in a major policy change.

Arpaio instituted the “courtesy hold” policy to give federal authorities more time to launch deportation proceedings but new Sheriff Paul Penzone said at a surprise press conference Friday that legal issues left him no choice but to change it, effective immediately, according to reports.

"ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) will have to take a more aggressive position on how they're going to act on those who are in violation of Federal law, as we continue to enforce State law,” Penzone said, according to Fox 10 Phoenix.

Arpaio became a lightning rod for criticism over his harsh immigration tactics that included his well-publicized sweeps and raids but also his jail policies. Penzone toppled Arpaio in the November election after voters became frustrated over huge legal bills surrounding the longtime lawman.

Penzone said ICE officers will remain in his jail to screen everyone who is booked, but he will no longer detain inmates past their release dates to accommodate the agency.

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An ICE spokesman in Phoenix told the Arizona Republic Friday the agency had no immediate comment.

The paper reports that under the courtesy hold policy Maricopa County Jails would detain an individual for up to 48 hours past the individual’s release date at the request of ICE officers.

Penzone was unable to cite a specific lawsuit that prompted the policy change, but the paper reports that last year a Mexican-born woman who is a U.S. citizen filed a lawsuit challenging the policy's constitutionality after she was arrested at a Trump protest and jailed overnight on a detainer request.

"The sheriff is absolutely doing the right thing by having any detention to have constitutional standards,” the woman Jacinta Gonzalez Goodman, 31, said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.