From the American Civil Liberties Union:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland today filed suit in federal court in Baltimore under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to ensure that local police departments that partner with ICE in anti-immigrant 287(g) agreements can be held accountable to the communities they serve. The lawsuit seeks full information about individuals who were held for further immigration screening, as well as policies and directives about how the Harford County Sheriff’s Office identified who they would target for screening.
“While the nation has been rightfully outraged about the separation of children from their parents by ICE, victims of racially biased immigration enforcement policies exist at our front steps when local police partner with ICE, and local communities are the ones to suffer for it,” said Nick Steiner, Equal Justice Works Immigrants’ Rights Fellow at the ACLU of Maryland. “We need to know the truth. It’s a serious government accountability problem if 287(g) agreements between local police agencies and ICE mean that Maryland communities are kept in the dark about how their local sheriffs operate their police departments.”
287(g) is a program that gives a job meant for the federal government – immigration enforcement – to local law enforcement who receive little training and often use practices that amount to racial profiling. Three Maryland counties – Frederick, Anne Arundel and Harford County – are actively using local police agencies to target and cage immigrants for ICE as part of the federal 287(g) program. This is disturbing because 287(g) agreements undermine public safety, encourage racial profiling, and weaken families that make our state strong.
287(g) programs do not focus on individuals suspected of violent offenses. According to the Frederick County 2012 Annual Report, 88 percent of detainers issued by ICE were for misdemeanors, many of which were traffic violations. In fact, the majority of the over 1,400 people detained for ICE and processed for deportation in Frederick were for non-violent offenses.
On November 28, 2017, the Harford County Sheriff issued a press release touting the success of its 287(g) program, based on the number of people detained for deportation. But the press release offered scant information to allow the public to evaluate the claim. Since then, the ACLU has been fighting to get more information both from the Harford County Sheriff’s office through a Maryland Public Information Act request, and from ICE, through a FOIA request. Although the Sheriff has the data that we are asking for, he claims the data belongs to ICE, not local law enforcement, so it cannot be released under the MPIA. For its part, ICE has claimed that the Freedom of Information Act does not require them to release the requested information to the public. That is unacceptable. ICE and local police departments must be held accountable to the local communities they serve.
Added Nick Steiner: “Especially because sheriffs are elected to office, how can the public hold this elected official accountable when they don’t know whether their police officers are criminalizing people because of where they were born or profiling people based on what they look or sound like?”
The ACLU of Maryland is represented by Steven R. Johnson and Timothy F. McCormack of Ballard Spahr LLP, as well as ACLU of Maryland Equal Justice Works Fellow Nick Steiner.
SHERIFF CHALLENGER BOARDMAN SUPPORTS ACLU LAWSUIT VERSUS GAHLER-LED SHERIFF’S OFFICE
From Christopher C. Boardman, Democratic nominee for sheriff of Harford County:
Christopher C. Boardman, Democratic nominee for sheriff of Harford County in this November’s election, applauded the filing of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Harford County Sheriff’s Office regarding the agency’s concealment of information about its involvement in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the Department of Homeland Security.
“Ever since Sheriff Gahler signed an agreement with I.C.E. nearly two years ago, I have been concerned about the sheriff’s unwarranted involvement in federal law enforsement, a mandate he is not statutorily authorized to pursue as a local law enforcement officer,” said Boardman.
“In addition, Sheriff Gahler continues to use local county taxpayer resources to support his crusade against immigrants without any explicit authorization or support from either the citizen taxpayers or the county govenment including the county council.”
Boardman noted that he had requested information as to how many county tax dollars have been spent on the sheriff’s crusade, and all questions have been passed on to the Department of Homeland Security, which has refused to provide any answers.
“Until news of this lawsuit was made public, the sheriff’s agency refused to disclose that 105 people were detained for further screening and 44 were determined to be candidates for deportation from Harford County,” said Boardman.
“The sheriff has gotten this all wrong. He is intervening in a federal immigration matter without jurisdiction and the U,S. Government does not even have a clear immigration policy. Sheriff Gahler would have done better to urge his Republican friends in the Congress to pass comprehensive Immigration reform rather than to pursue a half-baked crusade with an out-of-control federal agency that has resulted in the separation of families and the compounding of the problems.
“I have spoken to members of the sheriff’s office and they insist they are fighting crime. But as a matter of fact the sheriff’s actions and policies cause people who may have immigration issues to avoid contact with law enforcement in the county out of fear that their family members may be taken from them or that their fragile livelihoods may be irretrievably disrupted. The sheriff’s policy is actually making it more difficult for the sheriff’s office to enforce the law or provide the protections that people in their communities need,” said Boardman.
“I am hopeful that this lawsuit will cause the light of day to shine on these policies and practices so the citizens of Harford County can stop and prevent the abuses that have been identified when the federal government remains gridlocked over the immigration issue. If I am elected, I will terminate the county’s agreement with I.C.E.”
MD Sheriff Getting Sued for Fighting “Sanctuary State” Scheme
From Maryland Campaign for Liberty:
News broke late yesterday that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the Harford County Sheriff’s office because of their immigration enforcement efforts.
As you likely know, Harford County is one of only three county jurisdictions in Maryland to uphold the rule of law and cooperate with federal immigration officials through the 287(g) Program.
The ACLU of Maryland is leading the cause to make Maryland a “sanctuary state” for illegal aliens and criminal thugs.
We are concerned that this ACLU lawsuit leveled against conservative Sheriff Jeff Gahler’s office is a politically-driven attempt to try to discredit and block federal immigration enforcement.
We must stand with Sheriff Jeff Gahler and the Harford County Sheriff’s office to defend the rule of law against this Open Borders Lobby assault.
The ACLU and their liberal allies in the General Assembly have been unsuccessful for back-to-back years now in passing their center-piece “Sanctuary State” legislation.
Now they are pulling out all the stops and using frivolous legal attacks to try to tear down our borders.
We need your EMERGENCY HELP right now for several reasons:
1. The Open Borders Lobby may well use this lawsuit as grounds to try to freeze or end Harford County’s cooperation with this federal immigration enforcement program.
2. Any negative outcome in Harford County could easily translate into new attacks on Frederick and Anne Arundel Counties where local law enforcement use the 287(g) Program
3. The Open Borders Lobby will use this to prepare for the 2019 General Assembly so that they can finally pass their center-piece legislation to make Maryland a “sanctuary state” for illegal aliens and criminal thugs.
Successful litigation against the Harford County Sheriff’s Office could create a “chilling effect” across our state where other local authorities become weary about cooperating with federal immigration enforcement for fear of lawsuits and legal attacks.
Sign your “I Stand with Sheriff Gahler” Pledge today so that we know you will not back down to the ACLU or anyone else when it comes to upholding the rule of law in our state!
Maryland Campaign for Liberty
P.S. We don’t have a country if we don’t have borders.
So many immigrants SUPPORT Maryland Campaign for Liberty’s work against “sanctuary state” policies.
Because they respect the rule of law and worked very hard to legally become citizens of our country themselves.
We should not reward law breakers with citizenship, please help us to rally support and raise funds to fight the Open Borders Lobby.
The ACLU’s lawsuit filed this week against Sheriff Gahler is nothing more then a political power play to try to take down any local agency willing to enforce the law and fight illegal immigration.