New Jersey’s ACLU today praised Newark for becoming the last major American city to refuse to honor requests by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement to hold on to undocumented immigrants arrested for minor crimes.
Immigration detainers are nonbinding requests issued by ICE asking law enforcement to hold someone in custody on the federal immigration enforcement agency’s behalf in case the person charged posts bail.
The ACLU says ICE sends the detainers without probable cause, the legal standard required for an arrest.
Udi Ofer, executive director of the ACLU-NJ, said the request “sow suspicion in communities of immigrants by discouraging cooperation with police and force police departments to re-prioritize their spending, threatening public safety as a whole.
“Law enforcement officials across the country have recognized that local police officers should not be in the business of federal immigration enforcement,” Ofer said.
“This policy ensures that if you’re a victim of a crime, or have witnessed a crime, you can contact the police without having to fear deportation,” he said. “This will make all Newarkers safer.”
Chicago, New York and New Orleans also refuse the requests.
“We are thrilled that Newark is standing in solidarity with immigrant families by rejecting all future collaboration with the federal deportation apparatus,” said Emily Tucker, identified as a staff attorney at something called the Center for Popular Democracy.
“Spending local tax dollars to take parents away from their children and workers away from their jobs is both morally wrong and bad for the economy,” Tucker said. “We hope the Newark policy will serve as a model for the rest of New Jersey, and for cities around the country who don’t want local resources being spent to help ICE meet its arbitrary enforcement quotas.”
Newark police said they will still report whenever apparently undocumented aliens are arrested — but said nothing legally compels the department to hold onto them.
“In the last several years, the federal government has increasingly relied on local law enforcement to funnel immigrants into the detention and deportation dragnet through problematic information-sharing initiatives that devastate the stability of communities,” said the Rev. Karl Esker of St. James Church in Newark and the head of Justice for Immigrants Campaign of the Newark Archdiocese. “This policy is absolutely essential in a city like Newark, where trust between local law enforcement and the community is crucial to protecting public safety.”
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