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2017-04-26 / Letters

ICE removal tactics violate Constitution

International human rights documents consistently affirm the principle that every individual is entitled to protection under the law [“Hiding in Plain Sight,” March 22]. Despite these clearly established anti-discrimination policies, the media continues to report abuse of individuals in this country based on their immigration status. Possibly emboldened by new immigration rules, the U.S. immigration detention system now incarcerates hundreds of thousands of immigrants every year, exposing them to brutal conditions, at a massive cost to American taxpayers.

Recently, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removal tactics have involved eliminating the individual’s right to a fair hearing. These enforcement programs are in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection of due process, and the guaranteed freedom from discrimination. Not only do these ICE enforcement practices tear at the social fabric of families, they undermine the communities’ trust in law enforcement. Success in prosecuting crimes depends on a citizen’s willingness to come forward and share information with law enforcement agencies. Recently, ICE removal tactics include waiting in courtroom lobbies and detaining potential witnesses. This limits the likelihood that persons of ethnic minority, with knowledge of a crime, will come forward and work with law enforcement agencies.

The American Civil Liberties Union has developed a local community outreach program called “People Power” intended to teach about these discriminatory practices and encourage citizen groups to open a dialogue with law enforcement agencies to clarify their immigration policies and rules. Members of Indivisible Midlothian, including myself, were invited to meet with Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard and the Chesterfield Chief of Police, Col. Thierry Dupuis, in March. Both law enforcement officers were welcoming, and openly discussed where they stand regarding their immigration law policies and procedures. The ACLU has identified nine “model” state and local law enforcement policies which they believe to be consistent with our Constitution. We were impressed to learn that both law enforcement agencies have already adopted all but one of the nine ACLU guidelines, if the constitutional rule fell within their legal jurisdiction. The one disparity between these nine ACLU guidelines and these law enforcement agencies concerns their willingness to allow “courtesy” interviews for individuals detained or incarcerated due to criminal activity. It is not clear how many days the law enforcement agencies are willing to detain such individuals until ICE officers can arrive for interviewing. We are concerned about both the constitutionality of this procedure, and the financial burden this places on Chesterfield taxpayers. It is our hope that the endorsement of these constitutional model rules by our local law enforcement agencies will be consistent with their actions in the “heat of the moment.”

Jim Wade
MIDLOTHIAN

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