Maine Gov. Paul LePage is threatening to remove sheriffs from office who refuse to detain immigrants for federal immigration officials.
Maine's constitution appears to give the governor some authority in removing elected sheriffs.
The Bangor Daily News reports the Republican governor made the comments to conservative radio host Laura Ingraham on Monday. He didn't name sheriffs he would target.
In a statement released by LePage's press secretary, LePage sent a letter to the state's 16 county sheriff's to cooperate with federal officials per his executive order 001-2011, signed January 6, 2011.
"As a State established under the authority of the Constitutions of the United States of America and of the State of Maine, the State must do its duty and work cooperatively at the Federal, State, and Local level to enforce the laws that maintain our nation’s sovereignty and keep us safe,” LePage said in the statement.
He added, "Because ICE officials must have probable cause prior to requesting a detainer, we should not be putting potentially dangerous illegal aliens back on the streets without granting federal officials the authorized 48 hours of detention. My executive order clearly requires this reasonable cooperation on behalf of Maine’s law enforcement officers for the safety of our people. If the sheriffs refuse to comply with state and federal law, I am authorized to take additional action to remove them from office under the Maine Constitution.”
Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce has said he would reject requests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to hold prisoners in jail beyond their scheduled release.
Joyce said county commissioners would have to begin the removal process, starting with impeachment proceedings.
County Commissioner James Cloutier says he's certain his fellow commissioners would not remove Joyce.
LePage spokeswoman Julie Rabinowitz says the governor has not taken any action to remove a sheriff.
This story has been corrected to show Cloutier said he's certain fellow commissioners would not be interested in removing Joyce, not that they would be.