For Immediate Release
June 17, 2015
Contact: SG Sarmiento, email@example.com
Civil Rights Organizations Slam DHS’s Latest Deportation Program; Call on DHS to Discontinue Use of Unlawful Detention Requests
Replacement for Discredited “Se Communities” Program Suffers From Serious Legal Flaws that Expose DHS and Cooperating Law Enforcement Agencies to Liability
Wednesday, June 16, 2015—In response to new details released on Friday about DHS’s “Priority Enforcement Program” (PEP), prominent civil and immigrants’ rights organizations today delivered a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calling for an end to detention (“detainer”) and notification requests. The letter asserts that PEP—created as a replacement for the controversial Se Communities program— suffers from many of the same legal problems that contributed to the agency’s decision to end the Se Communities. As a result, local law enforcement agencies that choose to participate may face liability.
In the letter, the organizations call on DHS to discontinue the use of “immigration detainers,” which ask local law enforcement agencies to detain individuals in their custody after their authority to hold them expires. After a series of federal court decisions last year holding that immigration detainers fail to comply with the Fourth Amendment, hundreds of local law enforcement agencies across the country adopted policies prohibiting compliance with immigration detainers absent a judicial warrant or judicial determination of probable cause. DHS still does not provide a judicial determination of probable cause either before or after issuing an immigration detainer, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Jessica Karp Bansal, NDLON Litigation Director, said, “When DHS first announced PEP back in November, it acknowledged the need for reform in light of federal court decisions holding that immigration detainers do not provide a lawful basis to detain a person. So we were surprised to learn that DHS plans to continue issuing detainers through PEP that don’t comport with constitutional requirements. PEP creates a trap for unwary local law enforcement agencies, which will be subject to legal liability should they choose to participate.”
In addition to legal concerns, the letter also criticizes PEP as contravening the recent recommendation from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing to “decouple” federal immigration enforcement from local policing.
Said Salvador Sarmiento, NDLON Legislative Director, “PEP is completely out of step with the national conversation on the need for policing and criminal justice reform. We question why DHS is continuing to entangle local police in immigration enforcement when the President’s own Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended against doing so. The result will be the same kind of deterioration of police-community trust that we saw with Se Communities.”
DHS responded to the widespread criticism of the Se Communities program in November with plans to discontinue it; however, ICE’s new PEP forms and informational material, released last Friday, suggest PEP is little more than a re-branding of the same flawed product.