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Governor Says He'll 'Let Courts Decide' If Holding Released Inmates for ICE Violates Civil Rights

Maine Gov. Paul LePage is holding fast to his threat to oust sheriffs who don't honor immigration authorities' requests to hold inmates beyond their scheduled release.

In Falmouth Thursday, LePage said that public safety trumped any concerns he might have about the Constitution's bar against unreasonable seizures.

"And if that means that I have to pick and choose between keeping somebody alive and the Fourth Amendment, then I'll let the courts decide if I violated the Fourth Amendment," LePage said, at a natural gas conference. "But I will tell you I will keep people alive to the best of my ability."

LePage said he has not yet received a formal complaint about sheriffs failing to honor any detention requests from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. But Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce and at least one other county sheriff say they will not do so if the ICE request is not accompanied by a judicial warrant.

Under the state Constitution, LePage would need to receive a formal complaint before he could move toward firing a sheriff who disobeyed his orders.