Immigration enforcement goes rogue in Colorado
Judy Danielson, a Colorado Quaker, joins the March 5, 2012 vigil outside the GEO immigrant detention center in Aurora, Colorado.Photo: AFSC / Sarah Jackson
ICE Steps Up Presence at the Aurora, Colorado Jail, Requests Summons Data; Surge in Detention and Deportation Expected
Community and faith groups demand an end to ICE’s rogue tactics
Amid calls for transparency and accountability, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) first denied the new tactics and then confirmed their existence. On March 5, 2012, community and faith groups gathered at the for-profit GEO detention center to detail a pattern of misinformation and ICE tactics in direct conflict with two-year-old guidelines for enforcement and prosecutorial discretion.
On March 2, community groups criticized ICE’s new tactic--requesting summons data for mainly traffic offenses--as a deportation dragnet. This surge, and the request for summons data, flies in the face of ICE's stated priorities and is particularly troubling to see following on the heels of the Administration's recently concluded Prosecutorial Discretion pilot in Denver.
Gabriela Flora, Policy Director at the American Friends Service Committee, explains the problem this way: “While the Obama Administration has issued policy guidelines outlining priorities for enforcement, ICE consistently uses their budget to meet their stated goal of ‘deporting every deportable [person]’ and to meet their 400,000 people per year quota. Today we say Aurora doesn’t agree with this goal. Aurora’s goal is diverse and healthy neighborhoods. We reject this quota today.”
The Obama administration has repeatedly stated that their administrative priorities and directives in regards to immigration have been carefully crafted to ensure that immigrant families are not swept up and destroyed by ICE’s immigration dragnet, with policies such as the Prosecutorial Discretion pilot program.
This new project in Aurora is a step backwards for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Colorado and raises questions about the level of control that DHS has over ICE, which has increasingly been operating outside of stated national procedures.
“I am here today because I believe immigrants are key members of our communities and families, integral to the healthiness of our lives and economies. ICE’s increased presence and lack of transparency only create mistrust, fear and division. AFSC calls on them to halt their operation and leave our community,” explained Jennifer Piper, Interfaith Organizer at AFSC.
Lizeth Chacón, Organizer of Rights for All People (RAP), expressed frustration. “The Aurora police department and community groups like RAP have worked hard to build trust," Chacón said. "This trust has made Aurora safer as witnesses to, and victims of, crime come forward reporting what they saw and aiding in police investigations. ICE overstepped the boundaries between local and federal responsibilities, an action that threatens the hard work of Aurora police and the community.”
Pastor Anne Dunlap of the United Church of Christ echoed Lizeth’s sentiments: “I received fearful calls from Latino and immigrant members of my church as rumors flew this weekend. People reported hearing that ICE and police officers were pulling people over and waiting outside grocery stores. They told me ICE’s unasked for presence in our community made it feel dangerous to come to church.”
For more info, contact Jordan Garcia, (303) 919-8798, firstname.lastname@example.org.