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By Melanie Davis

Advocacy Tools to Better Understand Local Law Enforcement Involvement in the Deportation Business

The federal immigration system continues to expand and grow more punitive, assisted in large part by the time and resources of local governments and law enforcement agencies. Expending any local resources helping Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) is entirely voluntary.  Some local and state officials have recognized the poor policy effects of working too closely with ICE, which has torn apart countless families and undermines already strained relations with local law enforcement.  In addition, following federal court rulings that ICE detainers (requests to have an individual held for transfer to deportation proceedings directly from local custody) are unconstitutional, hundreds of counties and cities no longer comply with these requests.  

The map below shows the degree to which local law enforcement offer assistance to federal immigration authorities, as well as the degree to which localities have enacted laws or policies limiting their involvement in federal immigration enforcement.  The map is based on a 7-point rubric of the types of policy choices that most affect local engagement in immigration enforcement.  Because the 7 factors are cumulative, counties of the same color do not necessarily have the same policies, but rather offer the same number of types of assistance to ICE.  In addition, the map reflects existing policy statements or laws, but not the implementation or compliance with those laws. 

For more details about local policies regarding immigration enforcement and analysis of what this map means, see our report: Searching for Sanctuary

  • The darkest red jurisdictions spend substantial local time and resources on civil immigration enforcement, whether under a 287(g) agreement or by contracting with ICE to detain immigrants, or both. 
  • The remaining red jurisdictions do not have formal MOUs or contracts with ICE, but nonetheless are willing to assist ICE with deportations in other ways, such as by holding immigrants on detainers, providing extensive information about individuals in county custody to ICE, and generally granting any requests that ICE makes of them.  We are concerned that most of the red shaded counties below are regularly violating the Fourth Amendment by detaining immigrants without probable cause or legal authority.
  • The orange counties, by and large, offer slightly more limited assistance to ICE, and are largely defined by their non-compliance with ICE detainers.  Because multiple federal courts have found ICE detainers to be illegal, these jurisdictions are willing to provide ICE information and notice of when someone in custody will be released, but will not hold anyone for transfer to ICE.
  • The yellow and light green counties have further disentangled the local justice system from immigration enforcement, by restricting ICE’s ability to interrogate individuals while in local custody, by refraining from asking about immigration status or place of birth, or by otherwise enacting policies that they will not assist in any civil immigration enforcement.
  • The brightest green jurisdictions have the most comprehensive protections to prevent local resources from being used for immigration enforcement.

The Department of Homeland Security is the largest law enforcement agency in the country, and in its 14 years of existence has built a massive infrastructure to exploit local resources in the business of detaining and deporting immigrants.  Even those localities that have enacted the most comprehensive policies to restrict their own involvement in civil immigration enforcement are still connected to this machine.  ICE and CBP access shared law enforcement databases, receive fingerprint checks through the Priority Enforcement Program (formerly Secure Communities), and use any other means available to get information and assistance from local law enforcement. 

For our part, we have seen tremendous success of local policies that disentangle local law enforcement from ICE, and we continue to support those initiatives.  Immigrants who know that their local law enforcement agents are not involved in deportations are better integrated, more secure, and more involved in our communities.  Their children are less likely to live in fear of losing a parent.  Crime has continued to fall.  We continue to advise communities, law enforcement, and elected officials across the country on their legal and constitutional authority regarding immigration enforcement, including the legal and constitutional defects of ICE detainers.

How to Best Prepare:

If you have a same-sex partner or spouse who is a U.S. citizen, green card holder or visa holder, get an immigration screening by a qualified legal services provider to understand all of your potential immigration options and risks; be careful to avoid fraud by notarios or unqualified legal service providers (links to Resources below); and know your rights in case you or your spouse or partner ever come in contact with immigration authorities.

Additionally, if you or a loved one are not a U.S. citizen (even if you are a legal permanent resident), take the time now to create a preparedness plan for your family in case one of you is detained and/or deported. This plan should include ensuring important government and health documents are accessible by another family member, emergency contacts are shared with those you trust, and instructions for care and an affidavit designating a care giver for any children you have are documented. Always have on hand the contact information of a legal service provider in case of emergency. In case of contact with immigration authorities, do not answer any questions or provide personal information. If immigration authorities come to your home, keep your door closed and do not open it at all unless the authorities can show you a warrant with your name on it that is signed by a judge. They almost never have a warrant like that. If you are detained, do not sign anything you don’t understand. Ask to speak with a lawyer and for a hearing before an immigration judge. Be sure to keep materials explaining your rights, like ILRC’s red cards, easily accessible to read aloud or to pass to immigration authorities or police if immigration authorities were to attempt to enter your home or approach you on the street.

Resources:


For more information about this map or other legal issues regarding ICE detainers, local involvement in deportations, and local sanctuary policies, or for assistance in starting a local campaign or joining national efforts, contact Lena Graber at lgraber@ilrc.org or Angie Junck at ajunck@ilrc.org.

Source for image: Immigrant legal Resource Center

Editor’s Note: Mayor Ted Wheeler Says Portland Will be a Sanctuary City for Immigrants, Despite Donald Trump’s Threats. El Hispanic News is following sanctuary status for other areas and municipalities, including Hillsboro, Oregon.

 

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