TELLER COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- A group of Teller County residents is suing their elected sheriff, accusing him of using taxpayer resources to enforce federal immigration law.
Tuesday, Sheriff Jason Mikesell took the stand in Cripple Creek to defend his ability to hold undocumented immigrants in his jail.
Since 2019, Mikesesll has had an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. That agreement allows him to hold undocumented immigrants at the request of federal authorities.
In court Tuesday, attorneys for the ACLU claimed Mikesell has continually violated Colorado law by doing this. The agreement is called a '287 G Agreement.' The Teller County Sheriff's Office is the only law enforcement agency in the state that has such an agreement.
The Sheriff's actions are being questioned on the basis of a 2019 Colorado law called "Protect Colorado Residents from Federal Government Overreach." Among other things, this prevents local law enforcement from placing undocumented immigrants on a 48-hour hold at the request of immigration authorities. Prior to the passage of this law, this practice was typically done when an immigrant could bond out of jail or be released after their case was closed. It allowed immigration authorities to more easily locate and detain undocumented immigrants who were charged with crimes and eventually deport them.
Tuesday in court, Mikesell claimed he was regularly arresting undocumented immigrants who were involved in organized criminal activity, and his office's relationship with ICE spawned out of an effort to deter that activity.
The ACLU claims Mikesell is violating that 2019 law and has held three different immigrants for ICE.
The trial is expected to last three days. It is a court trial, meaning the judge will rule whether or nor the sheriff violated state law.