Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton insists that ICE detainers are "mandatory," but the Statesman notes that other counties across the country limit who they tag for deportation:
Officials in several counties that have stopped honoring detainers did so after trying to officially opt out of the Secure Communities program.It was always clear to this correspondent that a) the ICE detainers under Secure Communiteis are not mandatory, even if some nativists and/or federal bureaucrats would like to pretend it is; b) Sheriff Greg Hamilton has chosen to be much more aggressive on detaining low-level offenders for deportation than is required by law; and c) to the extent ICE detainers are mandates, they are unfunded ones with significant consequences for local jails. I'm glad to see Hamilton's primary opponent calling him out on this policy.
ICE initially asked each local jurisdiction to sign "memorandums of understanding" before launching the program, giving local authorities the impression that they could pull out of the agreement.
When several states tried, however, ICE voided those memorandums and indicated the program was mandatory.
Those counties then changed their policies on detainers unilaterally, after ICE officials told them the detainers weren't mandatory.
See related Grits posts: