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March 1, 2024Rockville, MD, United StatesPartnership and Engagement

ERO Baltimore reaches landmark agreement with Montgomery County on immigration detainers

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Montgomery County has agreed to honor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immigration detainers following a landmark meeting Feb. 27 in Rockville. Leadership delegations from Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Baltimore and Montgomery County’s Executive Committee met during a closed-door session to create a more effective working relationship between the two organizations and improve community safety.

“We are extremely encouraged by the progress made during the meeting with the Montgomery County Executive Committee,” said ERO Baltimore Field Office Director Darius Reeves. “Both of our organizations are committed to forging a mutually beneficial path toward working together in the future. I think we all want the same thing: Safer and more secure neighborhoods for our residents.”

The leaders discussed myriad issues, but the most pressing matter was how ERO Baltimore and Montgomery County can more effectively communicate about enforcing U.S. immigration law.

“Montgomery County had a good meeting with ICE’s Baltimore Enforcement and Removal Operations office to discuss our collaboration around public safety,” said Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Earl Stoddard of Montgomery County’s Office of the County Executive. “During the meeting, Director Reeves and the county executive had a productive discussion about improved communications and operational challenges with custody transfers. The county cleared up some misconceptions about our policy on immigration enforcement and ICE underscored their need for more notice prior to releases.”

Reeves explained that ERO Baltimore was not asking Montgomery County to hold noncitizens beyond their release date, but asked for better notification from the county regarding release dates for the most egregious offenders.

“We are not looking to remove the mother of three kids who was caught stealing diapers or baby formula from the local grocery store,” Reeves said. “ERO Baltimore prioritizes public safety by apprehending and removing the drug dealers, gang members, murderers and rapists — the offenders who victimize the immigrant and nonimmigrant communities.”

Reeves offered ERO Baltimore resources and training for the Montgomery County Department of Corrections staff, and Montgomery County offered more clear and timely notification to ERO Baltimore when it releases egregious offenders.

ERO Baltimore will meet with Montgomery County executives again in the coming weeks to work out additional details.

As part of its mission to identify and arrest removable noncitizens, ICE lodges immigration detainers against noncitizens who have been arrested for criminal activity and taken into custody by state or local law enforcement. An immigration detainer is a request from ICE to state or local law enforcement agencies to notify ICE as early as possible before a removable noncitizen is released from their custody. Detainers request that state or local law enforcement agencies maintain custody of the noncitizen for a period not to exceed 48 hours beyond the time the individual would otherwise be released, allowing ERO to assume custody for removal purposes in accordance with federal law.

Detainers are critical public safety tools because they focus enforcement resources on removable noncitizens who have been arrested for criminal activity. Detainers increase the safety of all parties involved — ERO personnel, law enforcement officials, removable noncitizens and the public — by allowing arrests to be made in secure and controlled custodial settings as opposed to at-large within the community. Because detainers result in the direct transfer of a noncitizen from state or local custody to ERO custody, they also minimize the potential that an individual will reoffend. Additionally, detainers conserve scarce government resources by allowing ERO to take criminal noncitizens into custody directly rather than expending resources locating these individuals at-large.

As one of ICE’s three operational directorates, ERO is the principal federal law enforcement authority in charge of domestic immigration enforcement. ERO’s mission is to protect the homeland through the arrest and removal of those who undermine the safety of U.S. communities and the integrity of U.S. immigration laws, and its primary areas of focus are interior enforcement operations, management of the agency’s detained and non-detained populations, and repatriation of noncitizens who have received final orders of removal. ERO’s workforce consists of more than 7,700 law enforcement and non-law enforcement support personnel across 25 domestic field offices and 208 locations nationwide, 30 overseas postings, and multiple temporary duty travel assignments along the border.