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New Resource: Fighting to Sever the Police-Stop-to-Deportation Pipeline

May 8, 2012

by Lena Graber, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers’ Guild

A week ago the state of Connecticut released its first inmate who was subject to an ICE hold request (also called ICE detainer).  Rather than submit to ICE’s request and hold the inmate an extra 48 hours for ICE to come take custody, the state let him go when his sentence was finished, as they would any other inmate who had served their time.

Connecticut is the first state to institute a policy against holding people in for ICE, although a number of cities and counties have enacted such rules.  From Cook County, IL, to Santa Clara County, CA, to Taos, New Mexico, communities have established policies against ICE hold requests to protect equal rights for the immigrant community and prevent deportations. 

In support of these policies, the National Immigration Project, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the Immigrant Defense Project, the Washington Defenders Association, and the National Immigration Law Center have produced a new resource for organizers and advocates to prevent deportations in our communities: The All-in-One Guide to Defeating ICE Hold Requests.  The All-in-One Guide has three parts: Staging Your Campaign – a sort of overview and organizing section; The Basics on Police-ICE Collusion – which digs into the complex relationships between ICE and the criminal justice system; andInto the Weeds – which provides more detailed legal and policy analysis about ICE hold requests.

In addition, The All-in-One Guide to Defeating ICE Hold Requests has six appendices with collected materials from ongoing and successful campaigns.  The appendices compile fact sheets oriented toward policy makers; sample information requests and questions for law enforcement; editorials and talking points; communications from public officials discussing ICE hold requests and Secure Communities; legal analyses of the authority for holding immigrants for ICE to pick up; and examples of legislation or administrative policies enacted or in the works.

The Guide to Defeating ICE Hold Requests is a manual for communities to understand how immigration enforcement works, and to engage with local law enforcement and policy-makers to pass laws and policies against hold requests.  When someone is booked into a local jail, on any charges, ICE issues a hold request to that jail, asking to keep the person locked up for an extra 48 hours so that ICE can come get them and deport them.  These hold requests are the functional tool that underlies Secure Communities, 287(g), and the Criminal Alien Program.  If communities refuse to submit to ICE hold requests, then immigrants who are released from jail are able to go back home to their families, instead of being snatched away to immigration detention and deportation.  The Guide provides information and advice for organizers and communities to understand the links between local law enforcement and ICE and to change those relationships.

“A few communities have taken a strong stance against ICE holds, and we are collaborating with people around the country to replicate these efforts,” said Lena Graber, author and Soros Justice Fellow at the National Immigration Project.  “Beyond local policies, state laws are the next step.”

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