Immigration Law

ICE Pushes Detainer Envelope with 'Warrant Service Officer' Program

ICE, May 6, 2019

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today the creation of a new collaborative program intended for local law-enforcement that wish to honor immigration detainers but are prohibited due to state and local policies that limit cooperation with the agency.

The Warrant Service Officer (WSO) program was launched during a signing ceremony with Lieutenant Governor of Florida Jeanette Núñez, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, National Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Jonathan Thompson and ICE Deputy Executive Associate Director for Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) David Marin. The effort, also intended for rural jurisdictions that lack the budget and personnel resources to become 287(g) partners, has gained interest from several other local law-enforcement agencies, which also attended the ceremony, and additional signings are expected soon.

... Once a WSO officer serves an administrative warrant and executes an arrest on behalf of ICE, the agency has 48 hours to conduct a transfer of custody unless an Intergovernmental Service Agreement exists. If ICE does not take the alien into custody within 48 hours, the individual must be released. WSO officers will only make arrests within the confines of the jail at which they work, and ICE will still issue immigration detainers with partner jurisdictions.

The WSO derives its authority from section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, but unlike the 287(g) program, WSO officers will not question individuals about their citizenship, alienage or removability, nor will they process aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States. The new procedure was prompted by requests from the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Major County Sheriffs of America, which asked for a program limited in scope that would allow jurisdictions prohibited from honoring immigration detainers to cooperate with ICE.

... Once a jurisdiction signs a WSO Memorandum of Agreement, the local law-enforcement agency will nominate officers to receive training from ICE certified instructors to perform WSO functions. ICE will conduct a background investigation on all nominated candidates, who will receive federal credentials that reflect their authority once training is completed. The WSO process will be supervised and directed by ICE, and the cost of travel and officer pay associated with training will be funded by the participating jurisdiction.

Additionally, the four-week immigration officer training module at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston, South Carolina, necessary for 287(g) partners has been modified for the WSO program. Instead, WSO candidates will receive one day of training from ICE personnel at a local training site. Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), also a Basic Ordering Agreement partner, is the first jurisdiction to formally become a WSO participant."