Arapahoe County settles for $30k with woman held for ICE


AURORA | Arapahoe County will pay a woman $30,000 after jailers, acting on a request from federal immigration authorities, held her for three days after she should have been released.

Claudia Valdez was arrested by sheriff’s deputies in July 2012 on domestic violence charges, which were dropped the following day, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, which threatened to sue the county on Valdez’s behalf.

Still, even though she should have been released, jailers kept her for another three days after officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed an “immigration detainer” against her saying she may be in the country illegally.

ICE took Valdez into custody after three days and a few hours later released her on bond.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Dave Walcher said that for years the county jail, like jails around Colorado and the country, regularly held inmates at the request of ICE after the inmates would have otherwise been released.

That was standard practice, he said, until some recent court decisions said those ICE detainer requests were not a valid reason for a jail to hold an inmate.

As a result, Walcher said the county will no longer hold inmates at the request of ICE unless there is a signed court order, similar to a warrant.

“The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office has come to the conclusion that we are not going to recognize these detainers,” he said.

Settling with Valdez and the ACLU for $30,000 made sense considering the time and money that would have been used defending a lawsuit, Walcher said.

According to the ACLU, Valdez, who has been in the country for 15 years and has three children who are US citizens, is still facing deportation.