Family upset over man’s immigration hold in Carson jail
The family of a suspected illegal immigrant picked up on a DUI Sunday morning is outraged, claiming that the Carson City Sheriff’s Office held the man on an immigration detainer longer than the law allows.
Manuel Pina, 34, was arrested at 4:38 a.m. Sunday in the 3600 block of Goni Road on suspicion of misdemeanor driving without a valid license, failure to maintain a single lane, drunken driving, driving without insurance, obstructing a peace officer and having a taillight out on the license plate. According to the arrest report, a preliminary breath test indicated his blood-alcohol content was .19, more than twice the legal limit.
On Monday morning about 9:30 a.m. Manuel Pina made a first appearance in Carson City Justice Court before Judge Robey Willis.
Willis ordered Manuel Pina released on his own recognizance, court records indicate.
Sheriff Ken Furlong said Pina was still in custody awaiting release at 1 p.m. when an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent signed an order asking the jail to detain Pina. The detainer came about after the jail notified ICE about Pina’s questionable status.
According to federal law, upon an ICE request to hold a suspected illegal alien, the jail must “maintain custody of the alien for a period not to exceed 48 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays in order to permit assumption of custody by the department.”
Lori Haley, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the 48 hours begin when a local jurisdiction notifies ICE that the suspect has been released the judge on the local charges and was available for transfer. She said the detainer is immediate.
About 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, Manuel Pina’s sister-in-law Laura Pina began to make phone calls to the Sheriff’s Department, Sen. Harry Reid’s office and ICE claiming the Carson City Jail and specifically Sheriff Ken Furlong were illegally detaining Manuel Pina, whom she admits is in the country illegally. Laura Pina went on to say he is married to a U.S. citizen, his children were born in the U.S. and he has lived in this country for 20 years.
“They know exactly they are violating the law,” Laura Pina, a volunteer for the Hispanic community and St. Gall’s Catholic Church in Gardnerville, said on Wednesday morning. “They are telling us to follow the law, but they’re not respecting the law.”
Laura Pina was specifically upset that Furlong was not immediately available for a meeting to discuss Manuel Pina’s custody status.
“When he was looking for votes he had plenty of time to talk to us,” said Laura Pina.
Furlong and Laura Pina ultimately sat down together about noon Wednesday, both confirmed.
Furlong said after looking into the timeline on the case, it does not appear that Manuel Pina was held any longer than allowed by law.
But the point is moot now, he said. ICE agents arrived at the Carson City Jail and picked up Pina at 11:51 a.m. – more than an hour before the detention cap of 48 hours was reached.
Laura Pina, however, does not believe that. She claimed that she called an ICE officer she knew and the officer stated he had not come into Carson City. Plus, she said, she was sitting outside the jail waiting on her brother-in-law’s release and she didn’t see him go anywhere.
“They are just now covering their butts,” said Laura Pina.
Furlong said Laura Pina would have been sitting outside the visitation door. She would not have been able to see Pina exit the secured sally port on the side.
But Laura Pina said this isn’t the first time the Carson City Jail has held people on ICE detainers longer than allowed by federal law.
Laura Pina spoke specifically about a case involving Francisco Magallanes, 41. She said Magallanes was held for a month in the Carson City Jail on an ICE detainer, but a check of Sheriff’s Office records indicates that Magallanes was picked up on June 6, on an ICE warrant – much different than a detainer and therefore not falling under the 48-hour rule. Magallanes was picked up by ICE and transferred to Reno on June 8.
Still, said Laura Pina, something shady is happening at the Carson City Jail in relation to Hispanic people and she intends to uncover it.
“I’m going to be his worst nightmare from now on,” she said of Furlong.
Furlong said the entire incident has caused his jail staff to review the protocol concerning immigration holds and everything seems to be working.
“Our policies and practices do not appear to have any flaws in them,” said Furlong. “The only error that was done concerning this gentleman’s custody is that we didn’t send back confirmation to ICE that we’d received their detainer.”
Furlong said had ICE not arrived by 1 p.m. to pick up Pina, he would have been released.
According to Deputy Armand Avina, Manuel Pina arrived at the Washoe County Jail at 3:16 p.m. as a federal prisoner.
“Here in Washoe County we are the only detention facility so therefore we do hold these federal inmates on an ICE hold,” he said.
* edited to correct Pina’s affiliation with St. Gall’s.