Victory against deportations in Minnesota
Sheriff Stanek announces Hennepin County Jail won’t cooperate with ICE hold requests
Minneapolis, MN – On June 11, Hennepin County Sheriff Stanek announced that the Hennepin County Jail will no longer honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests, or “ICE holds”, which have resulted in countless deportations against immigrants who are guilty of no crime. The announcement is an about-face for Sheriff Stanek, who in the past has supported close police-immigration collaboration and has campaigned for harsher immigration enforcement in the state legislature. The change in policy for Minnesota’s largest jail follows four years of grassroots pressure from the No More Deportations campaign organized by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC), as well as pressure from many other community organizations, lawyers, and from immigrant families who have spoken out about their experience with deportation.
Immigrant rights activists around the country are targeting sheriffs to break ties with ICE as one way to limit the effects of the disastrous “Secure Communities” deportation program that was imposed nationwide in 2010 and caused an unprecedented wave of deportations. Since 2009 when President Obama took office, 2 million people have been deported, more than under any other administration in U.S. history. Most of those deportations happen through county jails as a result of “Secure Communities” and related ICE programs. Recent court rulings have indicated that ICE holds may be unconstitutional since they cause local jails to detain people for an undetermined amount of time without charge waiting for ICE to arrive to question them about their immigration status. These questions about whether ICE holds are even legal has given further momentum to these anti-deportation campaigns, and increasing numbers of sheriffs are announcing their refusal to honor ICE hold requests anymore.
Since 2010 the No More Deportations campaign has demanded this change, organizing dozens of protests outside the Hennepin County Jail and Sheriff Stanek’s office, as well as educational events about deportations and ‘know your rights’ trainings at churches, community centers, and campuses. MIRAC also helped form a coalition with a broad array of organizations concerned about deportations. Just last week MIRAC protested outside Sheriff Stanek’s reelection campaign fundraising event in downtown Minneapolis, while three activists also attempted to respectfully raise the issue inside the event but were forcibly removed. These grassroots efforts as well as the recent court rulings and electoral factors (last week a Minneapolis Police Department Deputy Chief announced his intention to run against Stanek in November) seem to have converged to influence Sheriff Stanek to reverse course and loosen his jail’s ties with ICE.
According to Brad Sigal of the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC), “This is an important victory against deportations that will help prevent the separation of some families, but the struggle is not over. We will continue to fight for an end to deportations in Minnesota and nationally. We call on Ramsey County Sheriff Bostrom to follow Sheriff Stanek and immediately stop cooperating with ICE holds in Ramsey County. And we call on President Obama to take immediate executive action to expand deferred action to stop deportations nationally.”