EMERY COWAN and CORINA VANEK Sun Staff Reporters Apr 18, 2018 Updated 12 min ago

The Flagstaff City Council will move forward with a resolution condemning the policy of Coconino County Sheriff Jim Driscoll and the Coconino County Sheriff's Office to honor requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold prisoners beyond what is called for by a person's sentence.

The proposed resolution calls upon Driscoll to end his office’s policy of honoring detainer requests from federal immigration officials and to begin advising inmates of their right to not speak with agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. It would also urge the sheriff to adopt a policy of only notifying ICE agents of inmates suspected of being undocumented after they are released from custody.

The jail has long honored the ICE requests to hold an inmate for an additional two days beyond what their local charges require. The extended period of detention is meant to give federal immigration agents time to take custody of someone they suspect of being in the country illegally.

The group that presented at Tuesday’s meeting, which includes members of the pro-immigrant coalition Keep Flagstaff Together, says the practice is unconstitutional.

At Tuesday night's meeting, Dulce Bojorquez, the sister of Frankie Madrid, a young man who committed suicide after being deported to Mexico last year following a felony drug conviction, told the story of her brother and the devastation his death brought to the family.

Bojorquez, who wore a shirt that said #FrankiesLaw, said 21.5 million people in the country suffer from addiction, but most are eligible for treatment options or aid, which was not a possibility for her brother because of his immigration status.

"We are expected to be perfect, yet we are faced with all this trauma but no help," she said of undocumented young people.

"My pain will always be there, my family's pain will never go away," she said of the loss of her brother.

The audience gave Bojorquez a standing ovation after her remarks, which brought some members of the council to tears.

During a public comment period that lasted nearly an hour, no members of the public spoke in opposition to the resolution.

"The assumptions of the origins of a person are not cause for arbitrary searches, seizures and arrests," said Bjorn Krondorfer in his comments to the council.

Mayor Coral Evans fought back tears while talking about her relationship with Madrid, who she knew since he was a child.

"I watched a really good kid get destroyed by the system," she said. "Frankie was a good kid."

Evans said she believed time was of the essence for the council to act.

"I think the worst thing we can do is be silent in the face of injustice," she said.

Keep Flagstaff Together approached the city council because it says the majority of inmates in the jail at any one time are Flagstaff residents who were arrested by the Flagstaff Police Department.

The group also states that the current jail policy makes some residents more afraid to report crimes or cooperate with local law enforcement for fear that interacting with police could lead to being detained and turned over to ICE.

The Keep Flagstaff Together group met with Driscoll and Coconino County Attorney Bill Ring over about four months to try to persuade the sheriff to stop honoring the detainers.

The group also presented to the Coconino County Board of Supervisors in February with a similar resolution to the one it presented to city council. But that presentation was done during the public comment period of a meeting and the board has not formally considered the resolution since then.

For his part, Driscoll has said that honoring the ICE detainers is based on the county’s interpretation of the requirements of Arizona’s SB 1070, the controversial immigration legislation signed into law in 2010. The law mandates that local agencies notify ICE when a person convicted of a crime is suspected of being in the country illegally and released from custody.

It is the interpretation of the sheriff’s office and the county attorney that state and federal law require the jail to honor ICE holds, Driscoll said.

“I think the intent of that (state) law is to cooperate with federal agencies who may have an interest in a person,” Driscoll said in a March interview. “If a court having jurisdiction over us changes the law, we’ll change our policy to comply with that immediately.”

State Rep. Bob Thorpe has already weighed in on the issue, telling Flagstaff City Attorney Sterling Solomon that he didn’t believe the city should be involved in the matter of the jail’s policy of compliance with ICE detainer requests. In an email to city managers and city council, Solomon wrote that Thorpe told him if the Flagstaff City Council continued to stay involved, the state representative would file a complaint with the attorney general requesting an investigation of the city’s involvement.

Council’s discussion of the resolution comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed by an inmate in the Coconino County jail that challenges the sheriff’s office policy of complying with ICE detainer requests. The case will be heard in U.S. District Court in Phoenix.

The attorney for plaintiff Guillermo Tenorio-Serrano states that holding inmates suspected of being undocumented for longer than their local charges require violates the Arizona Constitution and the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

While the Keep Flagstaff Together group had hoped to resolve the policy issue through discussions and negotiations, the lawsuit will provide the legal clarity that the sheriff said he needed during their discussions, said Sandra Lubarsky, a member of the group.

Though all are named as defendants, members of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors, who also serve as the Coconino County Jail District’s Board of Directors, have split from Driscoll and Coconino County Jail Commander Matt Figueroa, with the two groups represented by separate, private attorneys. In response to questions about that move, county spokesman Matt Rudig said in an email that the board and the sheriff decided to take different approaches to the case.

The attorneys representing Driscoll and Figueroa work with the same firm hired by Maricopa County to defend former Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the multiple civil lawsuits filed against him. The jail district board of directors will be represented by the Phoenix law firm Sims Murray Jellison Ltd. County Attorney Bill Ring is not representing either party, meaning additional taxpayer dollars will be used in the lawsuit, beyond those already allocated to Ring’s salary.

Flagstaff Police Department policy already requires compliance with the SB 1070 law. Officers are required to contact ICE if, during the course of a legal stop or detention, they develop a reasonable suspicion to believe a person is unlawfully present in the country.

Once officers call ICE, the city policy directs officers not to detain the individual any longer than what is necessary to complete the original reason for the stop. So if ICE has not re-contacted the officer within that time frame the detainee is released by the officer.

According to a March report written by Police Chief Kevin Treadway, no Flagstaff Police Officer has transported an individual to the Coconino County Jail solely for having an ICE hold related to an immigration violation -- without any other criminal charges -- since the 2010 enactment of Senate Bill 1070.

At Tuesday's meeting, Evans, Vice Mayor Jamie Whelan and council members Celia Barotz, Eva Putzova and Jim McCarthy voiced support for allowing the council to take action on the resolution at a future meeting.