We told readers a few days ago about Polk County’s former sanctuary status. We were waiting for some responses from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, and have received answers.
Our first question dealt with the policy of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office prior to a law passed in 2018.
In 2018, the Iowa legislature passed a law that with withhold funds from cities or counties if they did not fully cooperate with immigration enforcement.
“The Polk County Sheriff’s Office follows and upholds the law,” said Public Information Officer Lieutenant Heath Osberg. “Prior to 2018, the law didn’t mandate law enforcement agencies to honor I247s (a request to hold for ICE). The Sheriff’s Office recognized this form as merely a request, to which we responded with information to ICE regarding identity.”
We asked if Polk County changed its protocol after the 2018 legislation was enacted.
“The Polk County Sheriff’s Office follows Iowa Code 825.2, which requires all employees to comply with immigration detainer requests issued by ICE in our custody as long as the warrant for arrest (I-200) or a warrant of removal or deportation (I-205) is added to the hold request (I-247).”
We followed up by asking if Polk County honors ALL ICE detainer requests it receives.
“As previously answered, we are bound by Iowa Code 825.2 to honor the requests as long as they are properly filed,” Osberg said. “ICE has 48 hours from the time the subject is done with state charges to file a detainer (I-203). If ICE does not do this in allotted amount of time, then the hold is dropped.”
We asked what processes are in place to verify someone taken into custody is in the country legally and how Polk County verifies someone in custody is indeed who they claim to be.
“Subject’s identities are verified through government IDs and fingerprints,” Osberg said. “During the intake process, people are asked their place of birth and if they are a U.S. citizen or not. That is the extent of what the Polk County Sheriff’s Office does in regards to your question. ICE, however, is at the jail regularly and they interview inmates and make their own cases in regards to immigration.”
Finally, we asked how many ICE detainer requests have been denied by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office since July 1, 2018. And we asked how many were denied from July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018.
“The Polk County jail does not keep track of improperly filed hold requests,” Osberg said.
That was the only answer we were given.