Montezuma County sheriff hopeful Steve Nowlin says he doesn't believe the law would be on his side if he jailed individuals on immigration violations.
More than half of Colorado's 64 sheriffs recently confirmed to the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado that they no longer detain people past their release at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The ACLU has warned that they could face legal liability if they relied on detainment requests from ICE.
The Cortez Journal recently asked candidates Nowlin and Mike Steele to weigh in on the ACLU survey. Nowlin agreed with the majority of Colorado sheriffs. Steele declined to comment.
In a 542-word response, Nowlin wrote that only people taken into custody upon a lawful arrest, charged with a crime and authorized by court order could be held in a detention facility. He added that those individuals should also be afforded a reasonable bond.
"A Colorado sheriff does not have the lawful authority provided in Colorado statues to enforce U.S. Immigration laws," said Nowlin.
Nowlin said ICE adheres to federal laws, which require a federal warrant for the arrest of an accused immigration violation.
In last month's GOP primary, Nowlin defeated incumbent Sheriff Dennis Spruell, who indicated during his campaign that he too wouldn't detain prisoners on ICE holds.
"It's illegal," Spruell told Latino advocates earlier this year.
Nowlin has said that he supported ICE efforts to locate and remove violent offenders who have entered the U.S. unlawfully, but he said that if elected, he'd work to serve and protect everyone, citizens or not.
"The majority of persons who enter the United States unlawfully are considered at-risk persons, because they often become victims of many different types of crime," said Nowlin.
Steele, a write-in candidate for sheriff, declined to participate with The Journal's campaign coverage leading up to the November election, saying that The Journal's endorsement of Nowlin biased its news coverage.