August 13, 2015
To Governor Larry Hogan,
The undersigned civil rights and justice organizations and leaders write to express outrage that you have unilaterally chosen to enter into an agreement with ICE to pick up immigrants as they are released from local custody.
The problems with out-of-control enforcement practices by ICE are well-known. And while the new enforcement program that you have agreed to implement – the Priority Enforcement Program or PEP – is just now unfolding, the history of its predecessor program – Secure Communities or SComms – gives us well-based cause for alarm. Like PEP, SComms was described by federal authorities as targeting the removal of violent criminals, but in practice the vast majority of people removed through the program had committed either very low level criminal offenses or no criminal offenses at all.
Take for example the statistics from Fiscal Year 2011. In that year, 26% of all Secure Communities deportations were immigrants with Level 1 convictions. A majority of those deported through the program had committed either very minor crimes or had no criminal convictions at all. Profiling and pretextual arrests increased as anti-immigrant officers made custodial arrests for very minor infractions like driving with a broken taillight because they knew that the arrest could lead to deportation.
And policing efforts were undermined. Research from the University of Illinois showed that more than 4 out of 10 Latinos reported that if victimized they were less likely to contact police officers for fear that the interaction would be used to inquire into their immigration status or that of people they know. That number sky-rocketed to 70% for undocumented immigrants.
Given the history of SComms, we do not believe ICE that PEP will be different. And for community members, notification to ICE about the time and location of release differs little from detaining someone for ICE pick-up. Because the ultimate result is deportation, PEP does nothing to address the crisis of profiling and pretextual arrests. But even worse, as jails garner the reputation as locations around which ICE agents wait for release, family members will be too frightened to visit or retrieve their loved ones.
Until ICE can prove itself worthy of trust, we ask that you decline to send notification to it about release. In light of the enormous federal failure to repair a broken immigration system, we ask that you remain focused on building the strongest local communities possible.
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
ACLU of Maryland
Baltimore Washington Laborers’ District Council
Beats, Rhymes and Relief. Freddie Gray Project
Care for Your Health
Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM Parochial Vicar at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, MD
Jews United for Justice
La Clínica del Pueblo
Langley Park Small Business Owners’ Association
Latino Health Initiative Steering Committee of Montgomery County
Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle
Long Branch Business League
LULAC Maryland Council
Maryland Center on Economic Policy
Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers
Maryland United for Peace and Justice
Maryland Working Families
Montgomery County’s Hispanic Democratic Club
NAACP, Maryland State Branch
Reverend Dr. Jamal Bryant, Founder Empowerment Temple
Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Baltimore Chapter