MIAMI, FL – In letters sent to all 67 county law enforcement agencies in Florida, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida is urging local sheriffs to resist efforts by the state and federal government pressuring law enforcement agencies into becoming part of a nationwide deportation force.
The letters, sent as part of a campaign spearheaded by the ACLU’s national office involving a dozen states, call on the sheriffs’ offices to neither enforce unconstitutional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention requests, nor participate in the 287(g) program which allows certain state and local law enforcement agencies to engage in federal immigration enforcement activities.
ICE detention requests – also known as ICE detainers or immigration holds – are requests that a local jail or other law enforcement agency detain an individual for an additional 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) after his or her release date in order to provide ICE agents extra time to decide whether to take the individual into federal custody for removal purposes. The ACLU opposes ICE detainers because they imprison people without due process and, in many cases, without any charges pending or probable cause of any violation has raised serious constitutional concerns.
The ACLU has also strongly opposed the 287(g) program, believing it has led to illegal racial profiling and civil rights abuses while diverting scarce resources from traditional local law enforcement functions and distorting immigration enforcement priorities.
Not only is the Trump administration pressuring local law enforcement agencies to participate in such programs, the Florida legislature is considering two bills, HB 697 and SB 786, which would compel local governments and law enforcement agencies to comply with federal immigration enforcement requests. When a similar bill was considered last year, the ACLU of Florida found that law enforcement agencies had policies which banned or limited the enforcement of ICE detention requests due to cost and constitutional concerns. Mandatory enforcement of federal immigration requests is also opposed by the Florida Sheriffs Association, in part because the cost of enforcing ICE detainers falls on the county and harms public safety.
The letters sent by the ACLU of Florida call on sheriffs to either adopt policies against enforcement of federal immigration requests, or, if the department was known to already have such a policy, continue to resist pressure to participate in potentially unconstitutional immigration enforcement.
An example of one of the letters is available here: https://aclufl.org/resources/aclu-of-florida-letter-to-local-enforcement-about-federal-immigration-policy/
More information on the ACLU’s nationwide effort is available here: https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/local-leaders-should-know-constitutional-and-public-safety-risks-joining-trumps
More information on the 2016 ACLU of Florida report on agencies with ICE detainer policies is here: https://aclufl.org/2016/01/26/report-shows-law-enforcement-agencies-in-at-least-30-florida-counties-would-be-punished-by-proposed-anti-immigrant-law/