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Colorado domestic violence victim gets payout over immigration hold

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - A Colorado county has agreed to pay $30,000 to a female victim of domestic violence who was jailed for three days at the request of U.S. immigration authorities even after a judge ordered her released, a civil rights group said on Thursday.

The settlement with the woman came on the heels of recent court decisions that said local police who hold suspected illegal immigrants at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, officials could be liable for constitutional violations.

Under the terms of so-called ICE detainers, police often keep suspected illegal immigrants in custody for 48 hours past their release dates while federal authorities decide whether to seek their deportation.

The Colorado lawsuit stemmed from a 2012 case in which Claudia Valdez, an illegal immigrant who has lived in the United States for 15 years and has children who are U.S. citizens, called police after an argument with her husband turned physical. She was subsequently arrested.

A judge later ordered Valdez released after her husband admitted he was the aggressor. Nevertheless, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office continued to hold her for three days at the request of immigration authorities.

“When ICE asks a sheriff to hold a prisoner, the agency is essentially asking the sheriff to make a new arrest,” Mark Silverstein, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Colorado, said in a statement. “Colorado law just does not provide authority to sheriffs to make that arrest.”

A spokeswoman for Arapahoe County could not be immediately reached for comment.

In April, the ACLU sent letters to all of Colorado’s 64 sheriffs noting that three separate courts had ruled that ICE detainers were merely requests, and local authorities could be held liable for due process violations if they honored them.

So far, 24 Colorado counties have agreed to halt the practice, the ACLU said.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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