Data: Nassau And Suffolk Counties May Be Detaining Immigrants Without Legal Authority

(Photo/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) published data last week that shows that Long Island’s law enforcement agencies have an all too cozy partnership with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that damages the relationship between immigrant communities and police, paving the way for less trust and more crime.

On a scale of 0 to 7, with “0” indicating the most involvement with ICE, ILRC found that Nassau and Suffolk scored a “2” in regards to their entanglement with ICE, meaning that they do not have any formal contracts with the feds, but tend to hold immigrants on detainer requests and provide detailed information on those in county custody.

As the ILRC states of counties with a “2” designation, they are concerned “that most of these counties may be regularly violating the Fourth Amendment by detaining immigrants without probable cause or legal authority.”

You can view the map here.

The ILRC stated that there has been “tremendous success” in community building and public safety when local law enforcement are disentangled from ICE.

“Immigrants who know that their local law enforcement agents are not involved in deportations are better integrated, more secure, and more involved in our communities. Their children are less likely to live in fear of losing a parent. Crime has continued to fall,” the ILRC report read. “We continue to advise communities, law enforcement, and elected officials across the country on their legal and constitutional authority regarding immigration enforcement, including the legal and constitutional defects of ICE detainers.”

Neither of Long Island’s counties have 287(g) agreements with ICE, which allow counties to enter into contracts with feds to deputize their police force into local arms of ICE. As per such agreements, local police are to receive appropriate training and protocols on handling immigrant enforcement.

In nationwide ICE raids conducted in November 2017, 38 were arrested on Long Island. Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and former Suffolk commissioner Tim Sini explicitly explained that the counties employ a partnership with the feds.

However, in this nefarious union, the atmosphere they create in immigrant communities is one of distrust and anxiety. And, it may not even be legal.

In December 2017, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, arguing that the county is not empowered by state law to honor ICE’s administrative detainer requests.

Also, just one month prior, the Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) and the Hofstra Law Clinic filed a similar lawsuit against Nassau County for allegedly allowing police to arrest immigrants based on non-judicial detainer requests. The lawsuit was spurred in part by the arrest and deportation of Denis Guerra Guerra, whose traffic stop should have resulted in just a traffic ticket.

The details of Nassau and Suffolk’s collaboration with ICE remains murky, since both counties’ police departments have been unclear and evasive about their actual, on-the-ground policies. Unnecessary cooperation with the feds will only further deteriorate the relationship between police and our immigrant communities, making all of our neighborhoods less safe.

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