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Archive for October, 2017

We delivered the following letter to Sheriff Stanek’s office on October 20, 2017.

October 20, 2017

Richard W. Stanek
Hennepin County Sheriff
350 S. 5th St., Room #6
Minneapolis, MN 55415

OPEN LETTER

Dear Sheriff Stanek,

We are writing in response to your Sept. 21 letter to Mayor Hodges and City Council, which we believe is misleading and dishonest, both to city officials and to the people of Minneapolis. To begin, by saying that “local law enforcement officers in Minnesota don’t enforce immigration laws,” you mislead city officials and the public into thinking that HCSO plays little or no role in the immigration and deportation system. But nothing can be further than the truth. HCSO functions as an arm of ICE and without HCSO’s cooperation “to the fullest extent of the law,” ICE could not detain nor deport Minnesota residents at its present levels.

Unfortunately, all arrestees in Minneapolis end up in the Hennepin County jail. This makes HCSO singularly responsible for setting the deportation process into motion for every Minneapolis resident who is eventually deported. Because HCSO “cooperate[s] with ICE officers to the fullest extent of the law,” HCSO is responsible for every immigrant tear shed, every immigrant family made homeless, and every dollar lost to the Minneapolis tax base and to the local economy when a Minneapolis resident is deported. Shame on you.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Honoring ICE Requests for Notification are voluntary, as are ICE “holds.” Dozens of American cities and counties and the states of New York and California have declared they will honor neither and statistics show they have become safer communities. You state HCSO will follow state and federal law, but at the same time, you enforce policies that are not law, like Requests for Notification, making calls to ICE, and giving ICE information about the immigration status of arrestees. You never say why you are doing this. Immigrants who have “allegedly” committed crimes and whose charges are subsequently dropped or are found not guilty only end up in the deportation process after your officers call ICE.

According to your letter, arrestees “voluntarily” disclose their immigration status (while in HCSO custody) and your officers then “arrange” calls to ICE, a process that “…is followed every time an officer makes an arrest and brings an individual to jail.” Do you expect the public to believe that immigrant detainees “voluntarily” speak with ICE? Can HCSO prove that its officers inform every detainee that talking to ICE is voluntary and that no harm or sanction will come to them if they choose not to talk to ICE?

To the contrary, detainees tell us that they are not given a choice to answer the calls made by your officers to ICE. And, no detainee that we have worked with has ever said they voluntarily offered their immigration status. Detainees tell us they were pressured to do so. While your letter provides no rationale for why HCSO continues to enforce policies that are voluntary, we know why. In their October 11 article, “Minnesota County jails do brisk business with immigration authorities,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune described how Minnesota County Sheriff’s are profiting from immigrant detention.

While there is no immigrant detention center in Hennepin County, money flows to HPSO through the contract between the city and the county to incarcerate Minneapolis residents. We call on the Mayor and City Council to immediately sever that contract. We also wonder if DHS and/or ICE pays HPSO in any way shape or form for cooperating with ICE.

Finally, you “take no position with respect to a sanctuary city policy [in Minneapolis],” but again, you mislead city officials and the public. Your practices and policies clearly establish the position you’ve taken against immigrants. As Sheriff of the Hennepin County Deportation Office, we place on you the direct responsibility for each and every deportation of a Minneapolis resident. As other public officials have described, you and your staff make it much easier for ICE to target immigrants. You have often said, “We don’t do ICE’s job — never have, never will”, but this is exactly what you and your staff are doing. We call on you to stop lying — to city officials and to the public. We don’t believe you — never have, never will.

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