Criminal Justice Press Release

03.30.17

ACLU Urges Local Sheriffs to Reject Participation in Federal Immigration Enforcement

Barbed wire and flag

CLEVELAND—The ACLU of Ohio sent a letter to county sheriffs in ten of the most populous counties as well as the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association outlining the dangers of carrying out President Trump’s immigration policies. According to the letter, local law enforcement are not obligated under federal law to participate in federal immigration enforcement, and by doing so could face serious legal liabilities.

“President Trump is strong-arming municipalities into enforcing federal immigration laws and is threatening to curb federal funding for localities that fail to comply,” said Mike Brickner, senior policy director at the ACLU of Ohio. “Officials should know they have a choice about whether they push aside local law enforcement priorities and use local resources on the Administration’s flawed immigration agenda.”

The ACLU’s letter outlined several problems that implementation of the Administration’s immigration plans could cause. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) often requires local authorities to detain individuals for an additional 48 hours after they are eligible for release. Holding these individuals for longer periods without a warrant issued by a judge presents significant constitutional problems.

Additionally, local law enforcement who comply with the federal immigration order could lose vital community support and diminish their efforts to improve public safety. Community policing works best when law enforcement has the trust and cooperation of their constituents. However, this cooperation is easily eroded when communities believe they cannot safely disclose criminal activity to local law enforcement for fear of deportation or imprisonment or that they may be the subject of racial or ethnic profiling.

“Enforcement of federal immigration laws is best left to the federal government,” said Brickner. “The Administration’s current plans would unleash a Pandora’s box of problems for local officials and the communities they serve. Officials should resist enforcing these wrong-headed policies.”

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Read the ACLU of Ohio’s letter to local law enforcement authorities.