The Standing on the Side of Love Committee from the First Unitarian Church of Providence collected over 400 letters representing 32 Rhode Island municipalities in support of passing an ACLU model Immigration Protection Ordinance during Pride last Saturday. The 400 letters were mailed to 28 mayors or council presidents, 20 city or town councilors and nine police chiefs in Rhode Island.
The ordinance is geared towards municipalities, not to state government. It would allow local communities to restrict their police from complying with federal agencies when it comes to immigration.
“For racist, political reasons Donald Trump is targeting non-criminal undocumented immigrants who are working, paying taxes, going to school, not breaking the law, and have family members who are US citizens,” said Jim Cowan, speaking for the committee, “How does this help us in any way? It only helps Trump fire up his base.”
The ACLU model ordinance was crafted to empower “police and other local authorities to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in limited, constitutional and legal ways. Immigration status will not be disclosed to ICE unless there is evidence of criminal activity.” It should be noted here that immigration offenses are civil, not criminal offenses.
“Police enforce criminal law, but immigration law is civil. Using police to enforce civil law is unconstitutional,” said Cowan, “This federal attempt to grab our local resources crosses a line that threatens the constitutional rights of all of us. It’s not only about immigration, it’s about the Constitution.”
The model ordinance consists of eleven key substantive sections, each of which can stand independently, an enforcement provision, a definitions section, and two procedural provisions.
1. LEAs (Law Enforcement Agencies) should not stop or interrogate people based solely on their suspected immigration status, and should not inquire about the immigration status of crime victims or witnesses unless necessary to investigate criminal activity unrelated to enforcing immigration laws.
2. Absent a judicial warrant, LEAs should not honor US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detainer requests except in limited, specified circumstances.
3. Absent a judicial warrant, LEAs should generally not honor ICE or CBP requests for certain non-public, sensitive information about an individual.
4. Absent a judicial warrant, LEAs should not provide ICE or CBP with access to individuals in their custody for questioning solely for civil immigration enforcement purposes.
5. LEAs should protect the due process rights of persons as to whom federal immigration enforcement requests have been made, including providing those persons with appropriate notice.
6. Local agency resources should not be used to create a federal registry based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.
7. Municipalities should limit collection of immigration – related information and ensure nondiscriminatory access to benefits and service s.
8. LEAs should adopt limits in participating in the surveillance of political or religious groups in the absence of specific criminal investigatory criteria.
9. LEA s should have procedures in place to help undocumented crime victims apply for non-immigrant visas specifically designated for such victims.
10. Municipal school districts should adopt formal policies on dealing with immigration agency requests for information about students’ immigration status and cooperating with such requests only to the extent required by federal law.
11. LEAs should collect and report data to the public regarding detainer and notification requests from ICE or CBP in order to monitor their compliance with applicable laws.
12. Legal remedies should be available for violations of the restrictions in the ordinance.
13. The ordinance should not be construed to restrict certain information – sharing activity as designated by federal law.
14.Definitions and a routine severability clause are included.
Those interested in contributing to this effort can find copies of the letter to download and sign as well as instructions as to how to address these letters at sanctuaryorhdinaceri.com