The immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera announced a series of community forums throughout Wisconsin following the victory of Donald Trump, who has vowed to build a wall on the Mexican border, conduct mass deportations and institute a ban on certain types of people coming to America.
The first forum will be at St. Rafael Catholic Church, 2059 S. 33rd St., Milwaukee, at 1 p.m. on Nov. 13.
The second forum will be at the Racine Labor Center, 2100 Layard Ave., Racine, at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13.
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, issued this statement after the election:
“For 15 years, Voces de la Frontera has fought to defend immigrant workers and their families. With every organizing tool available, our community has ceaselessly protected itself from the same xenophobia that has now risen to power in the government. We’ve done it through marches, rallies, civil disobedience, lawsuits, building electoral power and more. With Trump’s election, we must now redouble our efforts.”
She continued, “The immigrant rights movement is resilient, militant and rooted in working class identity. Our movement has broad experience mobilizing strikes, walkouts, boycotts, and economic action when political action has not been possible, as we did in Wisconsin when we defeated anti-immigrant state legislation earlier this year by organizing a Day Without Latinxs and Immigrants. If we see any movement to erode what our movement has won, like DACA, we will do whatever is needed to protect it. We are committed to organizing nationally with our networks and broadening the struggle to include other groups of workers and people who have been threatened by Trump.
“Trump’s message of fear and division unfortuantely resonated with white blue collar voters, who have suffered economic hardship similar to African Americans and Latinos. In the decimation of union organization, they don’t feel there’s a voice for them. But I do not believe that the majority of those people represent the worst elements of the Trump camaign – the far-right, white supremacist ideology we’ve seen. I think that most Trump voters want the same things that people of color want and need. And the promise they hoped to see in Trump will be betrayed, because he never ran on a platform that supported working people.”
The day after the election, Voces de la Frontera held a news conference where members spoke about how they are responding to Trump’s victory.
“I’m scared,” said Valeria Ruiz, 20, a DACA beneficiary from Racine. “From one day to another, my future, my 9-year-old sister’s future and that of more than 9 million undocumented immigrants in this country, is suddenly less certain. It’s terrifying. But we will do what we’ve always done – unite and fight.”
“I have a beautiful family,” said Lola Flores, an undocumented mother of four and Voces de la Frontera member from Waukesha. “Today my daughter called me from her middle school and told me that her Latino classmates were crying. It’s heartbreaking. But I will never stop fighting for the future of my children.”
La elección de Trump significa que tenemos que defendernos sin descansar
MILWAUKEE, WI – Después de la elección de Donald Trump como Presidente, Voces de la Frontera anunció una serie de foros comunitarios a en el estado de Wisconsin. El primer foro será en la Iglesia Católica San Rafael (2059 S 33rd St en Milwaukee) a la 1pm el domingo 13 de noviembre (más información aquí). El segundo foro será en Racine Labor Center (2100 Layard Ave en Racine) a las 5pm el domingo, 13 de noviembre (más información aquí).
En respuesta a los resultados electorales, Voces de la Frontera publicó la siguiente declaración:
“Por 15 años, Voces de la Frontera ha luchado para defender a los trabajadores inmigrantes y sus familias,” dijo Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Directora Ejecutiva de Voces de la Frontera. “Con todas las herramientas de organizar disponibles, nuestra comunidad se ha protegido sin cesar de la misma xenofobia que ahora () ha subido al poder de los Estados Unidos al gobierno. Lo hemos hecho a través de marchas, manifestaciones, desobediencia civil, luchas, representación del poder electoral y más. Ahora, tenemos que redoblar nuestros esfuerzos.
“Nuestro movimiento tiene una amplia experiencia movilizando huelgas, boicots y la acciones económicas cuando la acción política no ha sido posible, como lo hicimos en Wisconsin cuando derrotamos a las propuestas de ley anti-inmigrantes anteriormente este año al organizar un Día sin Latinxs e Inmigrantes. “Este movimiento basado en los derechos de los inmigrantes es resistente, militante y basado con la identificación de la clase trabajadora. Si vemos que cualquier de nuestros esfuerzos están siendo amenazados para ser elimanados, como DACA, vamos a hacer lo que sea necesario para protegerlos. Estamos comprometidos a organizar a través de nuestros redes nacionales y ampliaremos nuestra lucha para incluir a otros grupos de trabajadores y personas amenazadas por Trump.
“El mensaje de miedo y división de Trump resonó con los trabajadores blancos, que han sufrido dificultades económicas similares a los afroamericanos y a los latinos. Con la decadencia de las uniones, no sienten que hay una voz para ellos. Pero yo no creo que la mayoría de esas personas representan a los peores elementos de la campaña de Trump – la ideología de la extrema derecha, la supremacía blanca que hemos visto. Pienso que la mayoría de los votantes por Trump quieren las mismas cosas que la gente de color quiere y necesita. Sus esperanzas en Trump serán traicionadas, porque Trump nunca creó en una plataforma que apoyaba a la gente trabajadora.”
El miércoles, Voces de la Frontera tuvo una conferencia de prensa donde unos miembros de la organización hablaron sobre cómo están respondiendo a la victoria de Trump.
“Tengo miedo,” dijo Valeria Ruiz, de 20 años, una beneficiaria de DACA de Racine.”De un día para otro, mi futuro, el futuro de mi hermana de 9 años y el futuro de de más de 11 millones inmigrantes indocumentados en este país es de repente menos seguro. Es aterrador, pero haremos lo que siempre hemos hecho: unirnos y luchar.”
“Tengo una hermosa familia,” dijo Lola Flores, una madre indocumentada de cuatro hijos y miembra de Voces de la Frontera de Waukesha. “Hoy mi hija me llamó de su escuela media y me dijo que sus compañeros de clase latinos estaban llorando. Es desgarrador, pero nunca dejaré de luchar por el futuro de mis hijos.”
Congressional Democrats confronted White House officials over holiday-season raids seeking Central American immigrants for deportation, accusing the administration of spreading terror through immigrant communities.
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois said that President Barack Obama risks all the goodwill he has built up over the last year through his executive actions sparing millions from deportation, actions now tied up in court. And he complained that the administration did not alert congressional allies before conducting the raids, with first became public when The Washington Post published a story about the plans just before Christmas.
Gutierrez and other lawmakers raised those complaints and others during a meeting with administration officials, including Cecilia Munoz, director of the Domestic Policy Council.
“In the Hispanic Caucus there’s a real sense of outrage,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said he pointed out to Munoz that GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, running on an anti-immigrant platform, has praised the raids – and taken credit for them.
“Look, what I said to her is, I said, ‘Think about it a moment. Donald Trump is praising your public policy on immigration. You should need no further evidence of how wrong it is,'” Gutierrez said.
Separately, at a news conference in Las Vegas, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that he’d contacted the Homeland Security Department “to have them just back off till we can find out a better way to do this.”
A White House spokesman, Peter Boogaard, declined to comment beyond a statement Monday issued by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. In that statement, Johnson said that 121 people with final orders of removal, who had exhausted their legal claims and remedies, had been targeted for removal.
“This should come as no surprise. I have said publicly for months that individuals who constitute enforcement priorities, including families and unaccompanied children, will be removed,” Johnson said.
Despite the small numbers involved Democrats say the publicity around the holiday-season raids has reverberated throughout immigrant communities. And several of the immigrants have subsequently gotten their removals put on hold, prompting Democrats including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California to argue that they need more lawyers and more help.
“We need to obey our laws. But we also want to, in obeying our laws, make sure that the process is fair to people,” Pelosi said.
The Center for American Progress, traditionally a close administration ally, also released a statement criticizing the raids.
The planned deportations come as administration officials worry about another surge of Central American women, children and families at the southern border as people flee violence and persecution in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. A similar situation consumed the attention of Congress and the administration in the summer of 2014, though Congress never acted on an emergency budget request and policy changes sought by the administration. The crisis subsequently receded from public view as the number of arrivals dropped, but they are back on the rise.
Democrats said administration officials pointed to that increase in justifying the raids.
“This was an announcement to send a message to Central America: Don’t come here,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. “But if your mother, your father and your brother have just been murdered, the message is not going to do it and that is the problem.”
The Homeland Security Department is planning nationwide raids aimed at deporting adults and children who have already been ordered removed by an immigration judge.
The Washington Post reported that the operation from Immigration and Customs Enforcement would begin as soon as next month and would likely affect hundreds of immigrants who fled violence in Central America since the start of 2014.
ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen would not comment on the details of the Post report. In a statement, Christensen said that as part of civil enforcement priorities announced by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson in November 2014, the agency will focus on individuals “who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.”
That group includes people who have been caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally and those who have been ordered removed from the country since January 2014.
“As Secretary Johnson has consistently said, our border is not open to illegal immigration, and if individuals come here illegally, do not qualify for asylum or other relief, and have final orders of removal, they will be sent back consistent with our laws and our values,” she said.
The Obama administration disclosed that in the 2015 budget year, the U.S. deported the fewest immigrants since 2006.
ICE said that of the 235,413 people removed or returned during that time period, 98 percent met one or more of ICE’s enforcement priorities.
In a statement from his presidential campaign, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders said, “I am very disturbed by reports that the government may commence raids to deport families who have fled here to escape violence in Central America. As we spend time with our families this holiday season, we who are parents should ask ourselves what we would do if our children faced the danger and violence these children do? How far would we go to protect them?
“Our nation has always been a beacon of hope, a refuge for the oppressed. We cannot turn our backs on that essential element of who we are as a nation. We need to take steps to protect children and families seeking refuge here, not cast them out.”
Sidestepping immigration hardliners, House Republican leaders are moving to make a deal with Democrats to pass a spending bill that would keep the government running past next week.
The emerging strategy follows legislation passed on Dec. 4 by the House declaring President Barack Obama’s executive actions to curb deportations “null and void.” That legislation wasn’t enough for some conservatives, who complained that the only way to stop Obama’s actions on immigration would be to forbid them in legislation that must pass if the government is to stay open.
Republican leaders are opposed to that course of action, fearing a government shutdown that they don’t want, and plan to rely on Democratic votes to pass a bill to keep the government going.
The spending bill would pay for most government agencies for a year, while extending the Homeland Security Department only for a few months. Homeland Security includes the immigration agencies that would carry out Obama’s executive actions, so the approach would allow Republicans to revisit them early next year, once they have control of the Senate and a bigger majority in the House.
“We think this is the most practical way to fight the president’s action,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said.
Several conservative lawmakers sounded resigned Thursday to being ignored by Boehner, who, with a bigger majority next year, will have more room to maneuver around balky tea party lawmakers.
“My assumption is that the fix is in and they don’t need us,” said Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz. “They’re going to vote this with a large number of Democrats.”
The omnibus spending bill would cover the approximately one-third of the budget dedicated to day-to-day operations of Cabinet agencies. There’s slightly more than $1 trillion for the Pentagon and domestic agencies plus more than $70 billion to tackle overseas military operations in Afghanistan and to fight Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. Obama appeared likely to get most of his $6.2 billion request for fighting Ebola at home and in Africa but not his requests for infrastructure money.
Most of the money issues are largely worked out, House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said. But many so-called policy riders, on environmental regulations, long-haul trucker hours, labor relations and more, are unresolved.
GOP Rep. Harold Rogers of Kentucky, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, hopes to achieve the framework of a deal with Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, by the end of Friday and release it Monday.
“Until we see the bill, there’s no way you can say you support it or not,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said.
The bill on deportations, which passed 219-197, put the House on record against Obama’s actions granting work permits to more than 4 million immigrants in the country illegally. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., was among those who wanted more direct action to block what the president is doing.
“Having said we’re going to do everything we can to stop this – and then to do nothing to stop it – really hurts,” he said.
Immigrant rights activists will gather at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 outside North Division High School, where Voces de la Frontera and Youth Empowered in the Struggle will call on President Barack Obama to keep immigrant families together by expanding his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to protect all immigrants from deportation.
The activists’ gathering coincides with the president’s visit to Milwaukee. They are protesting Obama’s decision to delay taking executive action to stop deportations until after the Nov. 4 general elections. At events around the country in support of Democratic candidates, Obama has been met by immigrant rights advocates and families calling on him to stop deportations now.
YES member Denis Montero received protection from deportation from the DACA program, which granted legalization to immigrant youth in 2012. He said on Oct. 28, “DACA has meant that I can feel a degree of relief while doing things that others take for granted,” said Denis. “More importantly it has provided some hope, a breath to take in this struggle. Just like us, our fathers and mothers deserve to feel that relief, to do things like drive and work without fear.”
Meanwhile, Voces member Carla Calderon’s husband Jose was detained by ICE and placed in deportation after going to the Ozaukee County Courthouse to pay a traffic ticket.
“Jose was unjustly detained because he doesn’t have a driver’s license,” said Calderon. “We have lived here 17 years and he has no criminal record. Now my two children fear law enforcement, and we live knowing that my husband could be deported. I want President Obama to keep his promise and give security to my family, and to all 11 million of us who are here.”
The immigrant rights activists hope to distribute leaflets as people arrive to the event with Obama at North Division High School, 1011 W. Center St., Milwaukee.
Early on June 19, the children of Manuel Lopez, a man caught in recent citywide raids conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, joined with almost a dozen Wisconsinites, including Voces de la Frontera executive director Christine Neumann-Ortiz, to chain themselves together at the ICE district field office.
The action was to condemn the raids that have separated the children from their father since May 27.
“I just want my dad to come home,” Brianna Lopez, 11, said in a news release. “He’s a good guy and I miss him a lot.”
“My brother is a role model for me and for his children. People should see the way he’d give you the shirt off his back. It breaks my heart to see what his kids are going through without their father right now,” said Ruben Lopez, Manuel’s younger brother.
The protest started at about 6 a.m. at the ICE office located at 310 E. Knapp Street.
The action was organized in response to the May 27 immigration raid in Milwaukee. Activists called on ICE regional director Ricardo Wong to release Manuel and as part of the national campaign demanding that President Barack Obama use his executive authority to stop deportations.
As Congress stalls on immigration reform and the president delays his own action, Wisconsin families have vowed to do all they can to stop deportation and detention as they witness what they describe as ICE spreading terror locally, according to Voces de la Frontera.
“If ICE is going to step up its attacks on families in our communities, we’re going to step up our response,” said Neumann-Ortiz. “It’s obscene that the president is not only prolonging the suffering of people he claims to advocate for but is making it worse with sweeps that criminalize and intimidate our entire community. We all want to live in safe communities but spreading fear and distrust doesn’t help that goal. It undermines it.”
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A rally took place on May 29 in Milwaukee to protest President Barack Obama’s decision to ask his Homeland Security chief to hold off on completing a review of U.S. deportation policies until the end of the summer.
The White House said the request was a move aimed at salvaging any hopes for Congress to act on immigration this year, but immigration rights activists said more deportations will lead to more raids, stings and arrests and the continued separation of families.
Milwaukee-based Voces de la Frontera reported that on May 26, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested and detained approximately 21 undocumented people from their homes and workplaces across Milwaukee.
A demonstration took place on May 29 outside the ICE office on Knapp Street and Broadway in downtown Milwaukee to protest the arrests and the delay in reform from the Obama administration.
“No family should have to endure this kind of harassment,” said Silvia Juarez, whose cousin Epigmenio Martinez-Ruiz was taken this week to the Dodge County detention center. Epigmenio has no criminal record and a daughter, 8-year-old Tatiana, who is a U.S. citizen. He came to the United States before 2001, and has been working the past decade as a foundry worker in Milwaukee.
”Every day our office sees families like those affected by Tuesday’s raids who are reeling from these attacks,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, in a statement.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, and other members of the Congress wrote Johnson, asking him to address the problem of ICE targeting suspected undocumented immigrants at courthouses. People arriving to the court house for hearings and appearances for traffic citations or other matters are being detained for questioning and investigations that in some cases lead to deportation.
“My colleagues and I sent a strong message that people accessing our courthouses should be safe from profiling, fear, and intimidation,” Moore said. “By targeting courthouses, ICE is exacerbating the culture of fear in our immigrant communities and undermining public safety. Like schools, hospitals, and places of worship, courthouses should be protected from immigration profiling tactics. I am proud that my colleagues stood with me to promote open access to our court system.”
Obama in March directed the government to examine whether deportation practices can be made more humane, seeking to pacify frustrated immigration advocates. But that step emboldened House Republicans to argue they can’t trust Obama to enforce the law, and that bypassing lawmakers through executive action would deliver a death knell to the broader immigration overhaul that Obama and Democrats are seeking.
Now Obama is seeking to preserve what the White House sees as a narrow window in June and July in which Congress could conceivably act before Washington’s focus becomes consumed by the November midterm elections. “The president really wants to maximize the opportunity to get a permanent solution enacted, which requires Congress,” said Cecilia Munoz, the director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council.
“We’ve got maybe a window of two, three months to get the ball rolling in the House of Representatives,” Obama said earlier this month.
That window, White House officials said, has opened now that primary elections have wrapped up in many states where Republican incumbents are being challenged by tea party candidates who oppose an immigration overhaul. But a make-or-break deadline comes when lawmakers leave Washington for a monthlong August recess to focus on campaigning.
In Denver this week, Vice President Joe Biden made similar remarks about Republican opposition to immigration reform and reluctance to deal with legislation during campaigns.
“They’ve got their chance now,” Biden said. “Most of the primaries are over.”
But immigration advocates and Democrats have urged Obama to take immediate executive action in the face of congressional procrastination.
Obama informed Johnson of his decision to delay the review during a White House meeting last week in which Johnson updated the president on the review’s progress, a senior White House official said. Homeland Security will continue working on the review but won’t release the results until the window for congressional action has closed, said the official, who wasn’t authorized to comment by name and demanded anonymity.
Obama’s announcement came the same day a coalition of groups backing an immigration overhaul asked Obama to hold off in order to “give the House leadership all of the space they may need.” Among the groups urging Obama to delay were the National Immigration Forum, the Service Employees International Union and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
On the congressional front, the Senate last year passed a comprehensive bill with bipartisan support that Obama says meets his criteria for what an immigration fix must include. Republicans have refused to take up that bill, saying they preferred their own piecemeal approach. But House GOP leadership has made no move to bring legislation to a vote. And last week, GOP leaders last week blocked any votes on immigration legislation – including one offered as an amendment by a Republican – in yet another ominous sign for immigration’s prospects.
Johnson has offered few details about what potential policy changes he’s considering or what the timeline for acting might be. But Obama has previously taken modest executive steps to ease deportation. Two years ago, he offered protection from deportation and extended work permits to some immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Johnson has said he’s reviewing a possible expansion of that program, but he and Obama have both cautioned that the government is constrained in what it can do without Congress.
Advocates for immigration reform are mounting a final push to persuade the House to pass legislation this summer, seeing one last window to act that will soon slam shut for good.
If they don’t succeed by August, most say any chance of legislation will be over for the year, and all eyes will be on President Barack Obama to see if he acts on his own to curb deportations and accommodate some of the 11.5 million people here illegally.
The renewed focus on the GOP-led House comes amid chatter that immigration legislation – all but left for dead at the beginning of this year – is showing faint glimmers of life. Advocates point to recent comments by a handful of House Republicans, among them Speaker John Boehner, indicating an interest in getting it done.
Meanwhile Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., the leading proponent on the Republican side, has been trying to sell fellow Republicans on legislation he’s drafted that deals with enforcement of the laws and a legal status for those without one. He contends that after years of trying he’s struck a balance that can bring both sides on board.
“I think we finally have it right which is why I feel more optimistic than ever,” Diaz-Balart said.
Advocates note that midterm election primaries will largely be over by the end of June, freeing some House Republicans from the threat of a challenge from the right and perhaps liberating them to deal with a contentious issue like immigration.
Business lobbyists and others say they are now aiming to elevate pressure on individual House Republicans who might support overhaul efforts, or at least not publicly oppose them, with the aim of creating a swell of support that would allow Boehner the space he needs to act. Some outside lobbyists say they can count scores of House Republicans who would be with them.
The activity comes 10 months after the Senate passed bipartisan legislation with billions for border security, new visa programs to bring workers to the U.S., and a path to citizenship for the millions now here illegally. There is widespread agreement within the Republican establishment that the immigration issue has become a political drag on the GOP because of how it alienates Latinos, a fast-growing voter bloc. A wide-ranging coalition consisting of business groups, farmers, religious leaders, labor unions and others is pushing for reform.
But the same factors that have made immigration legislation a challenge from the beginning haven’t changed. For many individual House Republicans who represent largely white districts, there remains scant political imperative to act. And there is a small but vocal contingent among Republicans who oppose any effort at reform, and, egged on by some outside conservatives such as radio host Laura Ingraham, has vowed to take any step possible to oppose it.
The outsize sway of this small group was demonstrated recently when it mobilized against efforts by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., to advance legislation allowing eventual citizenship for people brought illegally to the country as youths who serve in the military.
Boehner has shown little appetite for standing down this faction, instead swiftly retreating after he made comments last week mocking House Republicans for being reluctant to act on immigration because it was too hard.
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, a leading conservative voice on immigration, said “there would be a civil war” if Boehner tried to move immigration. A House leadership aide said there were no plans for floor action this summer.
Meanwhile, Obama has come under intense pressure to address the issue through executive action, and his Homeland Security Department is conducting a review that could result in steps to soften the administration’s deportations policy. Advocates have hoped for some initial steps within coming weeks, although nothing major is expected until it becomes clear Boehner can’t or won’t act. If he doesn’t act by August at latest, attention will turn squarely to the administration for relief.
In a meeting Friday with Asian advocates and others, Obama made clear that the focus must be on Congress for now, said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., who attended.
Still, some advocates are more hopeful now than they were earlier this year after Boehner released a set of principles meant to guide action in the House, only to quickly abandon them after an unenthusiastic response from fellow Republicans.
“The people who want to do this just need to take a deep breath and do it,” said Galen Carey, vice president of government relations at the National Association of Evangelicals, which brought more than 250 pastors to Capitol Hill this week to lobby for reform.
Several Colorado sheriffs will no longer honor requests from federal immigration authorities to continue to detain someone once they are eligible to be released on the charges for which they were initially arrested.
The move comes in the wake of recent court decisions in Oregon and Pennsylvania that found that such detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement are not commands that local jurisdictions have to abide by, and that sheriffs could be liable for constitutional violations for holding people past the time when they would otherwise be released.
The announcement also comes as immigration activists across the country, including in Milwaukee, were preparing for May Day marches to call on other law enforcement leaders to take similar action and to demand an executive order from the president on deportations separating families. The Milwaukee rally, organized by Voces de la Frontera, was scheduled to take place at noon at the county courthouse.
Immigrant advocates have argued for years that so-called ICE holds are merely requests, not commands, and that holding inmates on immigration detainers could constitute due-process violations.
Several Oregon counties have stopped honoring the ICE detainer requests as a result of the court cases, and the city of Philadelphia is limiting the use of such holds. In Washington state, two counties, Walla Walla and Kitsap, confirmed Tuesday that they would also stop complying with the detainer requests.
“It significantly reduces the possibility that Walla Walla County will get sued for similar conduct that got Clackamas County (in Oregon) sued,” Sheriff John Turner told The Associated Press.
In Colorado, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said in an email shared with The Associated Press that inmates with ICE detainers will be released once any state or federal charges are resolved.
“This recent court decision in Oregon is a game changer regarding ICE holds on detainers,” Pelle said in an email dated Monday. The email goes on to say that attorneys advised the sheriff that the office has “potential civil exposure, and no state statutory authority for holding people on detainers.”
Pelle said in the email that they would make an exemption if ICE or any other federal law enforcement agency has an arrest warrant for an inmate. Mesa County in western Colorado is also emulating Pelle’s decision, spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said.
Carl Rusnok, a spokesman for ICE, said in a statement: “ICE will continue to work cooperatively with law enforcement partners throughout Colorado as the agency seeks to enforce its priorities by identifying and removing convicted criminals and others who are public safety threats.”
Mark Silverstein, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Colorado, which has been trying to change local policies on detainers, on Tuesday sent letters to every county sheriff urging them to stop honoring the ICE holds. Local jurisdictions don’t have the power to enforce federal immigration laws, he said.
“There’s no statutory authority to make an arrest because somebody is suspected of being present in the country in violation of the immigration laws,” Silverstein said. He added that when ICE makes a detainer request, the agency is making a request for the sheriff “to do something that he has no authority under Colorado law to do.”
The Oregon case involved a woman who, in March 2012, was found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to 48 hours in jail. However, she was incarcerated for more than two weeks due to the ICE hold, even though she was eligible for pre-trial release after posting bail. A federal judge ruled earlier this month that the county that incarcerated the woman violated her rights under the 4th Amendment by prolonging her incarceration without probable cause.
The San Miguel County sheriff in southwestern Colorado announced a similar decision as Boulder on Tuesday. The change in policy came after a ruling last month in Pennsylvania involving an American citizen who was born in Puerto Rico held in jail for three days on an ICE hold because he was believed to be from the Dominican Republic.
Sheriff Bill Masters said he will still inform ICE whenever someone who is suspected of being in the country illegally is brought to the county jail. But he won’t honor regular ICE detainers, which require that inmates be held for 48 hours after they post bond. Instead, Masters said ICE will have to file an arrest warrant signed by a federal magistrate explaining why someone should be held, just like deputies and police officers do when someone is arrested on state charges.
Masters said he isn’t trying to make a stand on immigration, but just wants to make sure that the 4th Amendment rights of all inmates to only be held with some documented evidence, whether or not they’re citizens, are protected.
“I would feel terrible if someone got detained here that was an American citizen,” said Masters, whose jurisdiction includes the resort town of Telluride.
Adams County Sheriff Doug Darr said he was meeting with attorneys Tuesday on how to proceed. “Nobody wants to get this wrong. Everybody wants to be within the boundaries of the law,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado, said the sheriffs’ decisions underline the need for overhauling the country’s immigration laws. “This is all a result of Congress’ failure to act,” he said.
Immigrant advocates applauded the sheriffs. “I think this this is long past due. Detainers are just plain unconstitutional, period,” said Hans Meyer, an immigration and criminal defense attorney.