by Don Washington on 2011/10/19
In the wake of 9/11 the Bush Administration set an anti-Constitutional agenda that has led to documented and widespread abuses of human and civil rights both here and abroad, stripping American citizens of their rights through a mix of programs that range from racial profiling to illegal seizure, detention and in some cases torture. One of these fear-based, anti-Constitutional programs is the ICE Detainer Program. A recent study tells us a number of delightful things about how a program put together by a frightened, faux-Christo-fascist Administration is harming entire communities and destroying the damn Constitution.
• 93% were of those arrested are Latinos even though Latinos make up roughly 66% of all undocumented in America. So if you think of the ICE Detainers as being racist and Un-Constitutional you are correct.
• 260,000 of those picked up either have a child or a spouse who are American citizens, 680 of them were United States citizens and all were held as if they were criminals and some suffered police brutality. If that makes you think that it’s harming American citizens at random you are right again.
• In Cook County the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service is requesting local authorities, on their own dime, support a quasi-Constitutional program that isn’t working and is preventing the Service from carrying out its main function of focusing on aliens who pose a threat to public safety or are a danger to the community. If that sounds like its letting criminals wander through immigrant communities you are dead on.
• For Cook County the quantifiable costs are $15.7 million dollars per year but the County is not protected against possible law suits and other damages that may flow from wrongful arrest, deportation, detention or possible death or injury as a result of enforcing the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers. If this seems wasteful and stupid then you are smarter than Sheriff Tom Dart… or perhaps just braver.
Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia saw all of this clearly and where other officials have shown all the courage of a Democratic legislator, acted the way you’d want a principled, and well a Democratic legislator to act. He created some legislation to protect the Constitution and defend all of our rights. He crafted a law that stopped Cook Country’s cooperation with ICE Detainers and got his fellow Commissioners to understand that this aggressive, ineffective and failed program had to be brought to a stop as soon as possible. You are going to hear a lot of nonsense about what the ordinance does and doesn’t do and if someone gets killed by an undocumented who was released by our hapless Sheriff you are going to want to blame the ordinance. When that happens be smarter than the idiot reporter who will have gotten it wrong. Here’s what you need to know.
• There is nothing in this Ordinance changes the mechanisms already in place within the criminal justice to prevent dangerous suspects from being released. Judges carefully consider risks to public safety when making post-arrest, pre-trial bond decisions.
• There is nothing in this Ordinance that would free anyone, regardless of their immigration status, poses a serious threat to the community, from the court setting a very high bond amount or deny bond altogether, so that such a suspect would almost certainly remain in county custody pending trial.
• There is nothing in this Ordinance would allow the Sheriff to release anyone whom the courts have already found to pose a serious threat to the community.
• This Ordinance does not allow any convicted criminal to get out of jail before they do their time. Immigrants convicted of felonies will serve their sentences in state prison, where ICE can readily identify them and prosecute them for removal.
• This Ordinance makes clear that immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility, and that local law enforcement is the job of local police officers, prosecutors, and judges.
• There is nothing in this ordinance that blocks ICE’s access to arrest records and all the information it needs to identify and arrest individuals who may be dangerous and subject to deportation.
So thank you Commissioner “Chuy” Garci; Champion the City and warrior for democracy.