Sedgwick County Sheriff fights to shed sanctuary county label

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Sedgwick County Sheriff is speaking out, upset that the county is still being labeled a sanctuary county.

Sheriff Jeff Easter says Secretary of State Kris Kobach and the Center for Immigration Studies continue to identify Sedgwick County as a sanctuary county.

However, Sheriff Easter says he’s been in full cooperation and compliance with the laws set forth by immigration officials.

Back in February, Sheriff Easter gave a 30-minute presentation to the Board of County Commissioners in regards to immigration law and how it affects them going forward.

He says as ICE has changed the way they do business, so have they.

“In February of 2017, we changed our policy where we also honor the 48 hour holds,” said Sheriff Easter.

However, maps from the Center for Immigration Studies continue to pinpoint Sedgwick County as being a sanctuary county.

The map also states that Sedgwick County will not honor ice detainers without court order or warrant.

The CIS says Sedgwick County declined detainers from January 28th to February 3rd of this year.

“We currently have 13 in our custody that are in here on detainer orders, since the beginning of January, they have 39 people out of our custody that were on detainers and either released them back to the public or they were deported, does that sound like we aren’t cooperating with ICE,” said Sheriff Easter.

CIS also list them as a county that could be at risk of losing federal funding, as recently as last month.

“The irony of it is, is that we received that same DOJ funding that the President was talking about cutting off from sanctuary counties,” said Sheriff Easter.

That Justice Assistance Grant funding came at the tune of 344-thousand dollars for both the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office and the Wichita Police Department.

It prompted Sheriff Easter to reach out to the CIS directly, asking a series of questions in an email.

“What qualifies a city or county to be a Sanctuary city or county, why Sedgwick County, Kansas is listed on your website, has anyone from Center for Immigration Studies ever called or emailed the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office about their policies?” said Sheriff Easter.

Sheriff Easter says he’s still waiting for a reply to those questions he sent back on August 4th.

KSN also tried to call and email the agency today to get some questions answered, but our requests were not returned.

Sheriff Easter says his hope by speaking out is that Secretary of State Kobach and the CIS will understand the county’s policy.

He also hopes they will that they are in compliance with the Department of Justice and with ICE, and that Sedgwick County is not a sanctuary county.

Sedgwick County isn’t the only Kansas community on a sanctuary county list.

Harvey, Butler and Shawnee counties are also listed.

The Center for Immigration Studies says Harvey and Butler counties won’t honor ice detainers without a court order or warrant.

It says Shawnee County won’t honor detainers without additional probable cause.

Finney County used to be listed as a sanctuary county, but that label has been lifted.

Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet. Follow and like us on Facebook and Twitter.