287g Continues, Help Is Needed

Sheriff Tim Helder continues to participate in the violence of 287g.  At the same time, President Trump continues to deploy and escalate his violence against immigrants and refugees.  We at AJC laud the efforts of other groups in NW Arkansas to curb and eliminate these harms.

Given the needs of immigrants and refugees and AJC's limited resources we have had to focus exclusively on direct services representation of immigrants and refugees rather than splitting our time between direct services and advocacy.  Just last month, AJC's director was in juvenile court for three children whose father had been deported by Sheriff Helder.  So, the need for advocacy continues, and yet, the resources are simply not there.  We have had to practice triage.

If you are interested in participating in advocacy for immigrants, please contact AUCC or you can also reach out to Gladys Tiffany at the OMNI Center.

Meanwhile, if you would like to help AJC you can donate, refer clients to us, or let us know of people whose needs could be addressed by our legal services for immigrants, refugees, LGBTQIA2S+ folks and cash poor folks generally. 

If you are an attorney and would like to volunteer, reach out and let us know.

Religious Leaders Speaking Up

Last month, the leaders of two Washington County-based religious organizations spoke out against 287(g) and Sheriff Helder's voluntarily deporting immigrants from our county.  Here is the letter below:

# # #

Sheriff Helder heard loud and clear from constituents last week, a group of fifty at the Steering Committee all expressing their concerns about the 287-g ICE detainer program. But then the sheriff's reply (in last week's paper): he's not changing anything because he could fill up Walton Arena with people who support his policy.

Of course, what Sheriff Helder should do is the right thing, regardless of crowd sizes. Instead, he makes a number of false claims. First, that no one ever objected before and that we are only paying attention now because we (Catholic Charities, Canopy NWA, People Power, the ACLU, AUCC) oppose President Trump. That's a patently false claim, as many in our organizations have been opposing 287-g for years.

Second, he claims that if we didn't have 287-g in place, ICE would be free to be on the street raiding restaurants and busting immigrant.  (translation: I'm the good cop; you should see how those other cops treat people). This second point is clearly a threat. It's meant to scare people and silence them from opposing a clearly harmful program that he currently voluntarily opts into.

If we truly want a county sheriff who is committed to protecting all the people of Washington County, including immigrants, it seems we are going to need to elect a new one. In the meantime, please know that our sheriff is unwilling to listen to the voice of immigrants, faith communities, and the organizations in our county that work among and serve them. He's choosing racist policies over the good of our county. We call on Sheriff Helder once again to opt out of 287-g.


Frank Head, Catholic Charities
Clint Schnekloth, Canopy NWA

Washington County Democrat Support

While we at the Arkansas Justice Collective believe that 287g is question of compassion, and not merely one of politics, we are pleased and grateful that a major political group, the Washington County Democrats, issued a statement opposing 287g last month.  It reads, in part:

we, the Democratic Party of Washington County, call for: The immediate halt of anti-immigrant methods and racial profiling activity by law enforcement, including, but not limited to, the Delegation of Immigration Authority Section 287(g)…

# # #

This statement was issued just days after AJC director Stephen Coger spoke to the organization at their monthly meeting, alongside Dr. Juan Jose Bustamente of the University of Arkansas' sociology department and Frank Head, director at Catholic Charities of Arkansas.

Some folks have requested a copy of the powerpoint presentation from that evening; it is available at this link.

Personal Repercussions

In 2010, Arkansas Justice Collective (AJC) founder Stephen Coger interviewed Sheriff Helder and others for this article on 287g.  The article lifts into view the very human suffering that 287g causes, and it also shows that Sheriff Helder's motivation was simply that there were too many immigrants.


287(g) Is It Working?

March 25, 2010

Special to the Fayetteville Free Weekly by Stephen Coger

Early one morning in 2008, Jared Gutierrez and his family heard a knock on the door. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents stood outside.

“Dad opened the door and they told him that they just wanted to talk,” Jared said.

The agents pulled the family out of their Lowell home, put them against the wall and searched them. The parents were taken away in handcuffs and later deported to Mexico.

“I was scared. I was mostly angry. My sister was crying. I remember I was angry and I talked to one of the immigration officers, ‘So do you like your job?’ trying to make him feel bad. And he was like, ‘Yeah, I love my job.’ So I got angrier. Yeah, I was terrified. It was like living a normal life, and all of a sudden your world changes because of just a couple of papers. I think everybody was scared.”

Jared, now 18, is a natural-born U.S. citizen whose parents were in the U.S. illegally. They came to the U.S. in 1988 seeking work.

Local Law Enforcement Takes On Immigration

Immigration efforts have been stepped up, in part by a new program called 287(g). Named for the section of the U.S. immigration law that authorizes it, 287(g) allows local law enforcement officials to function partially as immigration officers.

Benton and Washington counties, along with the cities of Rogers and Springdale, are participating in the 287(g) program.

Some people say the program is working, others disagree.

Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder says the program has helped reign in “the criminal element from Mexico” and stop the importation of narcotics.

But Julie Tolleson, of the Washington County Public Defender’s Office, says that most of the immigrant cases she sees are not drug cases.

“You don’t have that much in terms of drug or violence cases,” Tolleson said. “Forgeries and DWIs are the charges I’m seeing when they’re picking up immigrants.”

Helder said Washington County is participating in the program because of the number of illegal immigrants in NWA.

“We recognized that we have problems with a high influx of illegals in the area, and I think that along with that came the criminal element,” Helder said. “There was an outcry from the citizens in the county; we recognize there’s a problem, why aren’t we doing anything about it?”

However, some say 287(g) has done more to hurt families in NWA, specifically women and children, than it has to protect them.

Last year, the Washington County Sheriff’s Department became infamous for leaving an undocumented immigrant, Adriana Torres-Flores, then 38, in a holding cell for four days without food or drink. A deputy put the woman in a 9’ by 10’ cell on a Thursday and apparently forgot he had done so. She was found alive on Monday and taken to a hospital. She had been arrested for selling pirated CDs and DVDs.

Last month, a nursing mother was arrested by a Springdale police officer after being pulled over for speeding. She was taken to the Washington County Jail where she was not allowed to nurse her child. The baby refused to accept milk from other sources and the woman experienced painful swelling of her breasts.

Washington County Chief Deputy Jay Cantrell said that any nursing mother held in the jail, not just undocumented immigrants, would face the same situation, and an offer was made to allow her to pump her breasts.

Sheriff Helder said he was unaware of this situation and said that officers normally try to get detainees out quickly, especially with such circumstances. He said that this woman must have had an Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, detainer.

Kedron Benham, attorney with The Law Offices of Roy Petty, is representing the woman.

“I went through the chain of command at the detention center,” Benham said.

Benham said jailers refused to arrange a room for nursing, and that not allowing a mother to nurse a child is egregious. “There’s no reason they couldn’t accommodate that.”

Unequal Treatment?

Silvana Pagliuca aka “La Piba” is a DJ for La Zeta 95.7 FM and has worked as a law enforcement officer for the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.

“Saying a different name to a police officer is a misdemeanor,” Pagliuca said. “If you say a fake name, but that person really exists and you used it to work or for other reasons, it becomes a felony.

“Usually a white person will only be charged with a misdemeanor, but for a Hispanic, this is a felony based on the cop’s supposition that the offender is probably working illegally with that same name. After finding that this is not the case, they drop it to a misdemeanor, but by then the immigrant already has an ICE hold.”

When asked about Pagliuca’s claim of unequal treatment, Sheriff Helder said it is probably not the case.

“Not that I’m aware,” Helder said. “If there’s a felony charge, there’s a felony charge.

“I think that’s kind of a tough statement,” Helder said of the allegation. “The problem is if they’re arrested they’re going to be processed.”

When asked if there is a race-based disparity between misdemeanors and felonies, Tolleson of the Public Defender’s Office replied, “I absolutely believe that. I’m the only one in our office who speaks Spanish and so most of those immigrant cases become mine. And a significant number of my Hispanic cases are forgeries or non-financial identity fraud.”

Washington County Prosecuting Attorney John Threet said there are two separate laws. One is a misdemeanor that applies when a person is attempting to buy alcohol using a false ID; the other, a felony, applies when a person is using a false ID for other purposes, regardless of race.

“There are separate laws dealing with the same document,” and it depends upon the circumstances, Threet said.

Tolleson said she has yet to have an identity fraud case for a white client with a fake ID. But the story was different for her Hispanic clients.

“They’re charging forgery in the second degree, Arkansas Code Annotated 5-37-201, and I’m just not seeing it used when folks are using the ID to buy alcohol, but (instead) when they are brown and they are using the ID to work,” Tolleson said.

She said when immigrants are charged they are charged with a felony. The prosecutor’s office could charge everyone with the felony, including the person buying alcohol, but they choose not to.

“The forgery statute is getting stretched pretty big,” Tolleson said. “The effect of the prosecutions is very real. Not only do these folks become felons because of their fake IDs, they sit in our county jail for months while their case is pending because once in the jail they are slapped with an immigration hold.

“It’s a shame from a fairness perspective, and a waste from a resource perspective. Folks that could be turned over to ICE in a number of days sit for weeks so that we can put them through the criminal justice system for their fake ID.”

Targeting Criminals Or Hispanics

Andres Lopez, founder of Rogers-based Puente, or Bridge, an information and family development center, said that his problem with 287(g) is the discrimination.

“The fact of persecution bothers me, the discrimination,” Lopez said. “To apply 287(g) correctly would be to focus on criminals.

“The problem is stopping hard workers who come to work here and are just traveling between their home and their job, job and home, and they are stopped because a blinker light is out. That’s what I’m really angry about, because the police officers want to show their bosses, ‘Look! I’m doing my job, I stopped 20 illegals this week.’

“They stop people in their car, they ask for a license, they take the person to jail, and they call immigration and immigration deports them. They don’t care if there are two citizen children at home who will lose a parent, because this is what the law says.”

Jesse Gonzalez is a pastor with El Pozo de Jacob, or Jacob’s Well, in Springdale, an outreach center of the Presbyterian Church. He said that profiling is an issue.

“Profiling and stopping immigrants for mild traffic violations and getting the deportation process started, I’m against that.” Gonzalez said, “Empowering police officers to act as immigration officers, giving that authority to give immigrants to ICE custody, this is a dangerous and unjust enforcement of 287(g).”

Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse said 287(g) seems to be working.

“The information I get is that 287(g) is working like it’s supposed to.” Sprouse said, “If the way the program is administered in my understanding, if people aren’t breaking the law, they don’t have anything to be concerned about with 287(g).”

Gonzalez said it isn’t that simple.

“I’m in favor of going after a fellow Mexican killing or selling drugs, but most immigrants come and make a good contribution to the country. I cannot imagine accidently committing a traffic violation if I’d happened to forget my driver’s license. I could be taken to jail because I look Hispanic and the officer acting on 287(g) could call ICE and I might have a terrible time.”

According to a report issued last month by The Urban Institute, when 287(g) was formed, local officers across the country began pursuing unauthorized immigrants aggressively, “arresting them not for serious crimes but for less serious infractions or for no crimes at all.”

The report sites the following ICE statistics for fiscal year 2008 for the U.S.:

w 71 percent (27,000 out of 38,000) of all 287(g) detainees were not criminal aliens and had not committed any nonimmigration-related crimes. At the time of their arrests they had no prior criminal history.

w About half of the arrests occurred at the families’ homes, while the rest took place where respondents worked or during routine traffic stops or immigration appointments.

Ashley Simmons Pages, an immigrants’ rights advocate of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas working in NWA said 287(g) is having a negative effect.

“It does not appear that 287(g) has been carried out as intended, nor has it had the intended effect,” Pages said. “Instead of taking high level criminals like gangs and human traffickers off the streets, 287(g) in NWA seems to have had a negative effect on law-abiding immigrants and citizens.”

Exempt From The Constitution

Frank Head, director of Catholic Charities and Immigrations Services in Springdale, said that while the government claims to be arresting criminals for felonies, he is skeptical.

“I could just as easily claim that people were arrested for misdemeanors,” Head said. “It’s happening, but try and prove it. Lots of advocates claim abuse, but the government refuses to produce evidence. How’s it against government security to release statistics?

Captain Mike Peters, head of the 287(g) division at Springdale Police Department, said that he either did not know the answers or was not allowed to answer questions for this article.

ICE, which would not provide the requested information for this story, has not released data on the 287(g) program since May 2008.

Temple Black, a spokesman for the ICE office in New Orleans that has jurisdiction over NWA was contacted several times by phone and email beginning March 3. He was asked for statistics on the number of people in NWA who were taken into custody via 287(g) and for information about where, when, and why they were arrested. Black still has not provided the information.

“In my experience, the Constitution does not apply when it comes to arresting and detaining immigrants,” Head said. “The Constitution does not apply, and whenever there’s a segment of the community that is exempt from the Constitution’s protection, all of our rights are threatened.”

Striking Fear

A social worker at a Northwest Arkansas family shelter, speaking on the condition of anonymity because she cannot speak for the shelter, said that the most pronounced effect of 287(g) has been fear.

“The fear of not wanting to go out. Not wanting to drive because of getting pulled over for a light out in their car. The fear in the children that is constantly in their minds, that fear of going home and their parents not being there. Especially our clients, they’re single parents. What are they going to do?”

Sheriff Helder said that there is a natural fear of authority figures for many immigrants. He said that in the beginning there was a lot of outreach done to quell the fear in the Hispanic community, including working with the Latino pastoral alliance to reach out and cross linguistic and cultural barriers.

Community advocate Al “Papa Rap” Lopez concurred that people are frightened.

“There are a lot of people living in fear with 287(g),” Lopez said. “I’m strongly advising Latinos that it is important to be counted in the 2010 Census. I’ve even created some bilingual PSA’s to get my point across, but unfortunately what I’m getting back from a lot of people is ‘While 287(g) is around you can count me out.’

“As a responsible father, am I going to take the chance of taking my family to a nice restaurant in a city where I might be stopped by a police officer, and put my [undocumented] wife at risk? Am I going to buy a home, a lifetime investment, in a city where my spouse or one of my kids might end up in jail and deported because of documentation?

“For one moment let’s forget about the sad stories and let’s look at this from an Economics 101 perspective and think about the opportunity we have of developing the work force of tomorrow with the Arkansas-born children of our new immigrants. This is about being creative in finding ways of having more people spending their money: buying homes, cars, groceries, restaurant dinners, etc. To do away with 287(g) would be great for NWA, and will also guarantee a successful Census 2010 count of our Latino families. And in the end, a win-win situation for all.”

Lopez applauded the Fayetteville Police Department for not participating in the 287(g) program.

“I celebrate Fayetteville because their police department didn’t agree to participate in this program, and that’s why we have so many Hispanics shopping at the Fayetteville mall,” Lopez said. “Latinos know that Fayetteville is not a part of this program because the Spanish media informs them.”

In June 2006, the Immigration Committee of the Major Cities Chiefs Association adopted a set of recommendations stating that “immigration enforcement by local police would likely negatively affect and undermine the level of trust and cooperation between local police and immigrant communities. Such a divide between the local police and immigrant groups would result in increased crime against immigrants and in the broader community, create a class of silent victims and eliminate the potential for assistance from immigrants in solving crimes or preventing future terroristic acts.”

Pagliuca said that despite officials’ attempts to encourage the Hispanic community to get counted in the census, the general consensus of the community is, ‘Count me out.’

Contributing Not Costing

In the wake of Oklahoma’s anti-immigrant policies and the state’s ensuing intensified economic hardship from immigrant flight, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation report, “A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas,” found that immigrants (and their U.S. born children) have a small but positive net fiscal impact on the Arkansas state budget.

The immigrant population in Arkansas impacted the state budget by $237 million in 2004, taking into account the costs of education, health services and corrections. Those costs were more than balanced by tax contributions of $257 million by immigrants, resulting in a surplus to the state budget of more than $19 million, a contribution of approximately $158 per immigrant.

The report also found that without immigrant labor Arkansas would not be as competitive in the manufacturing sector.

“Without immigrant labor, the output of the state’s manufacturing industry would likely be lowered by about $1.4 billion-or about 8 percent of the industry’s $16.2 billion total contribution,” the report stated.

The economic impact of immigrants in Benton and Washington Counties in 2004 was $384,601 and $363,933, respectively, sums bested only by Pulaski County.

NWA’S Bad Report Card

According to The Urban Institute report, “Facing Our Future: Children in the Aftermath of Immigration Enforcement,” “After about one month of training, 19 officers from the four jurisdictions (Rogers, Springdale, and the two surrounding counties) returned and began checking the legal status of arrestees in the county jails, during traffic stops and other routine policing operations, and in small worksite raids.”

The report, released last month, considered six regions in the country that have participated in 287(g). The report found that persons detained in Washington and Benton counties were detained longer than anywhere else in their six-site study. And because most immigrants were not part of workplace raids by ICE, but rather local or county police action, ICE’s humanitarian guidelines do not apply.

Recently, the Washington County Jail was notified that it does not meet ICE standards for holding immigrants. This means that immigrants will be shipped to Fort Smith, creating another hurdle for family contact and transparency.

Part of the problem ICE has with the jail is that immigrants are not separated from other inmates. But the largest issue is the strip-search requirement, according to Deputy Cantrell.

“Some of these immigrants are detained because of their immigration status,” Cantrell said. “It’s not a criminal offense, it’s a civil offense against the United States. They haven’t been arrested, they’ve been detained. We’re first and foremost a county jail, but we’re the only game in town for detaining.”

Cantrell said that ICE will provide for the transportation of detained immigrants to Fort Smith, and that this will not alter Washington County’s participation in 287(g).

“They’ve (ICE) got several vans. It won’t be any expense to us. We’ll still be screening those people that we suspect to be foreign born and verifying their immigration status.”

According to the ICE Web site, there are 63 active 287(g) programs in the country. The only ones in Arkansas are the four in NWA.

When asked who could end 287(g) in Washington County, Cantrell said, “Sheriff Helder or ICE are the only two that could opt out of 287(g).”

Tearing Apart Families

In the last 10 years, more than 100,000 immigrant parents of U.S. citizen children have been deported from the U.S., according to The Urban Institute report. Two of these are Jared’s parents.

NWA community advocate Kathryn Birkhead said she has visited with many families in which the wage earner has been picked up by authorities.

“All of a sudden the person they depend on emotionally and financially is gone,” Birkhead said. “They have no recourse, they have no way of finding out where their loved one is.”

Jared, now 18, lives in Fayetteville, works two jobs and wants to go to the University of Arkansas. He said his parents were not dangerous, that “they hadn’t done anything bad.”

“We never even chose on purpose to hide from immigration,” Jared said. “We just lived a normal life. They told us ‘we don’t know how you’ve been hiding all this time,’ but we were not hiding.”

Jared said that his home was raided because his brother, who is currently in Mexico, had some speeding tickets.

“He had a failure to appear and I guess they connected it to my parents and that’s how they got to my house.

“I think that people should appreciate the life they have with their families. I know that I didn’t appreciate it like I should have. Now that I’m not with them I miss them. Just appreciate each other.”

Upcoming Presentations

Frank Head of Catholic Charities of Arkansas, Dr. Juan Jose Bustamente of the University of Arkansas, and Stephen Coger of the Arkansas Justice Collective, will be presenting at a meeting of Ozark Indivisible on August 5th at 5pm at the Good Shepard Lutheran Church (2925 Old Missouri Rd, Fayetteville, AR 72703).  

We will present to the Washington County Democrats on August 21st at the Hilton Garden Inn off Wedington (325 N Palak Dr, Fayetteville, AR 72704). This is their regular meeting, and it begins at 6:30; we will present around 7:15.

We will be discussing 287g in Washington County at both presentations.

We hope you can make it.

Gratitude for the Rally

Thank you to everyone who came our rally and gospel show on the Fayetteville Square.  We raised a lot of awareness around Sheriff Tim Helder's participation in the violent deportation programs whereby he gives immigrants to ICE for deportation before any finding of guilt or innocence.  

You can read previous blog entries for a deeper understanding of these ICE detainer and deportation programs.

The event was organized by Ozarks Indivisible and the Arkansas Justice Collective.  Please check out our pictures and then contact Sheriff Helder and tell him "Not 1 more!"
Sheriff Helder, THelder@co.washington.ar.us, 479-444-5750



Don't Deport Dad

Press Release
Start:  June 1, 2017
Through:  June 17, 2017
Contact: Stephen Coger
(479) 259-2487, hablo español
director at arkansaslaw.org

Don’t Deport Dad!

Refugees, immigrants and allies will gather the day before Father’s Day, Saturday, June 17th, for a rally, press conference and gospel show.

Father's Day should be a celebration of relaxation and family unity. Sadly, in Washington County, Sheriff Tim Helder is facilitating the deportation of not only fathers, but also mothers and children, even though he is not legally required to do so. All immigration authorities have to do is ask, and Sheriff Helder will detain immigrants even if they have not been convicted of any crime at all so that they can be deported.  He is tearing apart families and hurting immigrants when he does not have to.

Come join us and celebrate Father's Day by helping teach Sheriff Helder to love our neighbor.

We will meet at 11am on Saturday, June 17th, in the plaza of the Fayetteville Town Center just South of the Fayetteville Square.  The address is 15 W. Mountain Street.

If it is raining, we will meet inside St. Paul’s sanctuary.

After the rally and press conference, there will be gospel music from Fayetteville's own atheist- and queer-friendly The Gospel Hour, led by Adam Cox and Stephen Coger.

Spread the word with hashtags like: #DontDeportDad, #SheriffHelderStop, #Not1More, and #NiUnaMas #GospelPowerGospelHour #WashingtonCoSO #DoBetterWaCo

Wear blue!

For more information and to get involved, check out www.arkansaslaw.org/news


# # #

[Translation of the Same/Traducción de lo mismo]

¡No deporten a papá!

Refugiados, inmigrantes y aliados se reunirán el día antes del Día del Padre, el sábado 17 de junio, para una reunión, una conferencia de prensa y un programa de música gospel.

El Día del Padre debe ser una celebración de relajación y unidad familiar. Lamentablemente, en el condado de Washington, el sheriff Tim Helder está facilitando la deportación no sólo de padres, sino también de madres e hijos, a pesar de que no está legalmente obligado a hacerlo. Lo único que autoridades de inmigración tienen que hacer es preguntar para que el sheriff Helder detenga a los inmigrantes incluso si no han sido condenados por ningún crimen para que puedan ser deportados. Está separando familias y dañado la comunidad inmigrante. 

Venga y únase con nosotros y celebre este Día del Padre para ayudar a ensenarle al Sheriff Helder como él puede amar a su projimo.

Nos reuniremos a las 11 de la mañana del sábado 17 de junio en la plaza del Fayetteville Town Center/centro de la ciudad de Fayetteville, justo al sur de la plaza de Fayetteville. La dirección es 15 W. Mountain Street.

Si está lloviendo, nos reuniremos dentro del santuario de San Paul's Episcopal Church.

Después de la reunión y la conferencia de prensa, habrá música gospel del group "The Gospel Hour" de Fayetteville, dirigida por Adam Cox y Stephen Coger. La música de este grupo es gospel y a la vez da la bienvenida a todos, inclusos gente atea y LGBTQI.

Comparta esta informacion con hashtags como: #DontDeportDad, #SheriffHelderStop, #Not1More y #NiUnaMas #GospelPowerGospelHour #WashingtonCoSO #DoBetterWaCo

¡Lleve ropa azul!

Para obtener más información y participar, haga click en este enlace:www.arkansaslaw.org/news


What is an immigration "hold"?

Washington County (WaCo) is honoring Immigrant & Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests; that is, WaCo is imprisoning immigrants for no reason other than deportation by ICE.

An immigration "hold" is not legally binding; it is a request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE issues these requests to local law enforcement agencies. In 2014, a court ruled that local law enforcement agencies are not required to honor an ICE hold. In any circumstance in which an agency honors a detainer request—it is a completely voluntary act. (see Galarza v. Szalczyk).  In our case, ICE sends the request to Sheriff Tim Helder.  

Who Is Helder Hurting?

ICE holds especially hurt young people, women and LGBTQI-identified persons, due to vast systems of oppression and violence.  For example, LGBTQI immigrants are more likely to experience homelessness due to family abandonment and/or job discrimination. These challenging factors lead to the eventual criminalization of this population. In the case of women, many women are more likely to tolerate physical abuse than call the police, as they often fear that their abusive partner, or they themselves, will be deported.

I was once present as a Washington County Sheriff's Department delivered two immigrants to ICE custody. They walked in tiny shackled steps, escorted by the deputy, bound at the wrists and ankles, and one of them was a woman clutching the biggest Bible I have ever seen, her eyes brimming with tears.  As one Latina organizer stated, Sheriff Helder is deporting far more maids and hardworking parents than murderers and rapists.

Holds versus Warrants

This brings us to another point: if ICE truly thought someone was dangerous, they could seek a legally binding warrant from a judge.  Instead, they merely ask Sheriff Helder to hold them, and he does so, even though he has no legal obligation to do so.

287g & S-Comm

287g is a program by which immigrants admitted into Sheriff Helder's jail are screened and flagged as potentially deportable.  Like 287g, S-Comm also deploys racist and misogynist violence against immigrants. However, S-Comm is different in that it only flags immigrants who have a previous record with ICE. That is, ICE may have deported them in the past.  Thanks to Sheriff Helder, these immigrants will be separated from their communities, and worse, they could acquire a permanent bar to their reunification with their family and community in Washington County. (see footnote 1)

Trump Lauds the Programs

These programs facilitate xenophobic, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic and ablest state violence, disproportionately hurting women, people of color, people with disabilities, queer and trans immigrants, and children. This may explain why President Trump lauds these programs. In addition,  it raises a serious question: why would the Washington County Democrats endorse Sheriff Helder while he is participating in these programs?


Please call Sheriff Helder at 479-444-5700 and tell him; “If ICE wants to deport someone, let them go before a judge and request a warrant, like any other law enforcement agency.”  

ICE is not likely to make the effort. (see footnote 2)


[1] We are asking Sheriff Helder to end participation in any programs that would result in
deportation. 287g and S-Comm both must go, but S-Comm was responsible for 60 percent of all interior deportations in fiscal year 2013 and 73 percent in fiscal year 2014.
[2] http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/king-snohomish-counties-bristle-at-shaming-over-immigration-holds/ Since local law enforcement began refusing to honor ICE holds, not a single warrant has been filed in the jurisdictions discussed in the article.

Helping Immigrants & Refugees Locally

With the election of President Trump, many people are asking, "How can we help refugees and immigrants?"

One immediate and effective way is to refuse U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) requests to hold immigrants for deportation at our local jail.  Local advocacy organizations wrote the following letter to Sheriff Helder, expressing their concerns about ­­­ICE's requests. 

Some signatories to the letter will meet with Sheriff Helder soon to discuss these programs.
# # # 

April 25, 2017

Sheriff Tim Helder
Washington County Sheriff’s Department
1155 W Clydesdale Dr.
Fayetteville, AR 72701


Sheriff Helder:

By 2020, the Latino population in Washington County will constitute almost one in five residents. As a growing part of Northwest Arkansas, Latinos are starting businesses, raising families and participating in civil society here. At a time when we would be wise to embrace our Latino neighbors, programs like 287(g) and S-Comm are dividing our communities, wasting county resources, and sowing distrust toward law enforcement in the Latino community.

In 2001, a federal class-action lawsuit was filed against the city of Rogers because Latino residents were being improperly targeted by law enforcement. Even if your deputies do not engage in profiling, it is possible that municipal officers within Washington County may do so.  And when they bring immigrants to your jail, you are the only one that has the power to refuse to hold immigrants for ICE.

Participation in programs like 287(g) and S-Comm are completely voluntary. You have the power to keep communities together by refusing to hold people based solely on ICE detainers. If ICE truly wants to deport an immigrant, they could get a warrant like any other enforcement agency.

According to Corporal Tom Mulvaney of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, there is no way for the department to determine how many people have been released into ICE custody.  We are writing now to respectfully declare “not one more.”

We are not only saving resources by eliminating cooperation with these programs, but building trust within the Latino community through valuing their presence and their very human-ness in Washington County.

We know you are very busy, but we would like a public commitment from you to stop honoring ICE detainer requests by May 1, 2017.


The Undersigned

Ozark Indivisible; Arkansas Justice Collective; Frank Head, director, Catholic Charities Immigration Services, Springdale; Compassion Fayetteville; inTRANSitive; LUCHA; Arkansas United Community Coalition; NWA Workers Justice Center; Artist’s Laboratory Theatre; Rev. Clint Schnekloth, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville and chair,; CANOPY NWA; Katherine Glottieb, vice-chair, CANOPY NWA; People Power Project; Dr. Juan Jose Bustamante, chair, Civil Rights Roundtable; Drew Devenport, immigration attorney, Davis Law Firm; OMNI Center.