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.
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April 25, 2017
Sheriff Tim Helder
Washington County Sheriff’s Department
1155 W Clydesdale Dr.
Fayetteville, AR 72701
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.
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.