Immigration Detainer: Federal Court Solves Big Problem!
By: Harlan York
March 6, 2014

 On March 4, 2014, the US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit issued a very important ruling.

The case is called Galarza v. Szalczyk.

The 3rd Circuit ruled that an immigration detainer is NOT mandatory.

Rather, when Homeland Security lodges an immigration detainer, it is a request to a criminal detention facility to hold a person for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to take him into federal custody.

Galarza was arrested in Allentown, Pennsylvania and charged with drug conspiracy.

Local police called Immigration. Galarza put up criminal bail. But he was not let out of jail.


There was an immigration detainer.

  • This case is really insane since Galarza is a US citizen who attempted to prove his citizenship to the jail.
  • The federal court just ruled that the immigration detainer was not lawful.
  • Galarza nevertheless was kept in jail for several days after paying bail.
  • Finally Immigration talked with him.
  • Then they removed the immigration detainer.
  • By the way Galarza was also acquitted on the drug case.

Galarza sued as he alleged a violation of his civil rights.

The 3rd Circuit found that the local police as well as Homeland Security (which set the immigration detainer) were not immune from suit.

The defendant Lehigh County argued that an immigration detainer is mandatory.

Again, the 3rd Circuit ruled that an immigration detainer is NOT mandatory:

the federal government cannot command the government agencies

of the states to imprison persons of interest to federal officials”

Conclusion:  anyone who is arrested, immigrant in US legally, US citizen, or undocumented immigrant, would be well advised to pay bail immediately.

A criminal detention facility cannot continue detention after bail is posted.

The federal court has solved a big problem.

For many years, criminal courts and county jails would not release someone with an immigration detainer.

Looks like things have changed.

Note: the 3rd Circuit decision in the Galarza case affects immigration matters in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

About Harlan York

The first-ever attorney in New Jersey to win “Immigration Lawyer of the Year” from Best Lawyers, Harlan York is former immigration chair of the NJ State Bar Association and former co-chair for the NY State Bar Association CFLS Committee on Immigration. He currently serves on the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) National Practice Management Committee.

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Harlan York & Associates practices law in the areas of Immigration, Deportation Defense, Family Immigration, Corporate Immigration, Naturalization throughout Essex County – Hudson County – Morris County – Passaic County – Somerset County – Middlesex County – Bergen County – New Jersey -Immigration Lawyer – NJ Immigration Lawyer – Jersey City-Newark-Paterson Passaic Elizabeth Edison Woodbridge Toms River Hamilton Trenton Camden Clifton Passaic Garfield Wallington Cherry Hill East Orange Passaic Union City Bayonne Irvington Old Bridge Lakewood North Bergen Vineland Union Wayne Parsippany-Troy Hills New Brunswick Plainfield Bloomfield Perth Amboy East Brunswick West New York West Orange Hackensack Atlantic City Kearny Mount Laurel Montclair Essex Hoboken North Brunswick Belleville. In addition to serving clients in New York, Pennsylvania, the greater United States, and Internationally.

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