PORTLAND (AP) — The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department is the first in Maine to reject requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold prisoners in jail beyond their scheduled release.

The Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/2xfdUXT) reported that Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce announced the decision in a Sept. 14 letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Joyce wrote he’s sworn to uphold the law “even in the times that it may be inconvenient to the criminal justice system.” He says the jail will continue to honor requests to hold inmates if they are accompanied by a judicial warrant.

The policy shift comes as federal agents ramp up immigration enforcement across the nation.

An ICE spokesman condemned the sheriff’s decision in a statement that called it “an extreme step in the wrong direction.”

Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce.

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