For Immediate Release
May 27, 2015
Contacts: Yazmine Contreras, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rodrigo Barragan, email@example.com
TUSKEGEE, First City in Alabama to Enact an Immigrant TRUST Policy,
Reject Entanglement with Immigration Enforcement
Policy Advances Pres. Obama’s Policing Task Force’s Call to
“Decouple federal immigration enforcement from routine local policing”
TUSKEGEE, Alabama – Wednesday morning, Tuskegee government officials, civic leaders, and immigrant and civil rights advocates from across Alabama gathered at Tuskegee City Hall to announce a set of historic policies promoting inclusion, fair for immigrants, and non-biased community policing.
On Tuesday, May 26th, the Tuskegee City Council passed a resolution declaring Tuskegee to be a welcoming city, barring discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, and immigration status, and calling on the police chief to establish a “TRUST” policy aimed at building trust between his department and the city’s immigrant community.
Today, Chief Lester C. Patrick will announce his Department’s plan to issue a general order that, like other immigrant “TRUST Act” policies enacted across the country, will prohibit the warrantless detention of individuals by the Tuskegee Police Department at the request of immigration authorities, and place sensible limits on the collaboration between his department and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“No resident or visitor of Tuskegee should fear that a routine interaction with our officers could lead to the drastic consequence of deportation,” said Chief Patrick about the city’s new policy. “Our job is to promote order and safety for all people in Tuskegee, no matter where you come from, and we’re all more safe when residents don’t fear the police.”
“Tuskegee occupies a special place in history as a key location in the movement for the civil rights of African-Americans. We are committed to carrying that legacy forward by promoting fair and just for all persons in our city, including our immigrant brothers and sisters,” stated Mayor Johnny Ford.
Tuskegee’s announcement comes only days after President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing released its final report, calling on the Obama Administration to “[d]ecouple federal immigration enforcement from routine local policing.” The Task Force, which was convened in the wake of the events in Ferguson and across the nation, recommended that “[l]aw enforcement agencies should build relationships based on trust with immigrant communities” because “[t]his is central to overall public safety.”
Mayor Ford stressed the importance of enacting an immigrant TRUST order in the midst of the national debate on police reform: “At a time when cities are deeply rethinking and reforming the relationship between community members and the police, it is important that we take into account our more recently-arrived residents of all ethnic and racial backgrounds.”
“Misguided federal programs like Se Communities, and its replacement Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), that co-opt local law enforcement agencies and local taxpayer dollars to identify, detain, and transfer individuals—many of whom have little or no criminal history—to ICE custody have destroyed immigrant communities’ trust in law enforcement and incentivized racial profiling,” stated Carlos Ramos, a Central Alabama resident and immigrant rights advocate. “People in my community are scared of any contact with the police, even if they are victims or witnesses of a crime. We need to work with our local officials to change that.”
“These deportation dragnet programs, especially when they involve detention by local authorities, have also come under increasing constitutional scrutiny in the courts, leading over 250 localities from California to Georgia to enact TRUST policies like Tuskegee’s,” stated Jessica Vosburgh, Director of the Adelante Alabama Worker Center and Staff Attorney for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), which has advocated across the country for the disentanglement of local police from immigration enforcement.
“Four years ago, Alabama legislators enacted the infamous anti-immigrant law HB 56, which brought shame to our state, hurt our economy, cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, and fueled the separation of Alabama families,” stated Frank Barragan, an organizer with the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ). “Today, the City of Tuskegee takes a historic step in the opposite direction—the direction of progress, unity, human rights and respect for the dignity of all persons. We call on other cities and counties in Alabama to follow Tuskegee’s lead.”