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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sheriff puts community first and rejects ICE detention proposal

Salem, Ore--CAUSA was pleased to learn today that the Marion County Sheriff refused a proposal from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to use the county jail as an undocumented immigrant hold center.

According to the Salem Statesman Journal, Sheriff Russ Isham’s refusal to use the county jail for ICE holds was due to concerns he had “about how the partnership with ICE would affect the relationships his office has worked so hard to develop with minority groups in Marion County”.

Barbara Ghio, an Immigration Attorney in Marion County, said in response to the decision, “Had the sheriff approved the deal, it would have driven people in the immigrant community, perhaps even legal immigrants, further into the shadows”.

Ghio added that such cooperation “would have caused immigrants to not visit their loved ones in jail, not show up to testify in court for fear of being taken into custody by ICE and not report when they've been victimized”.

“The decision by Sheriff Isham is one that puts the public safety and needs of the Immigrant community first”, said Francisco Lopez, Executive Director of CAUSA. “It is one that fosters trust and that is a good thing for everybody."

Although Sheriff Isham has drawn criticism from some, his decision gives insight to where his priorities are—to have a working relationship with the minority and immigrant communities built on trust and cooperation. His decision should serve as an example to Sheriffs around the nation faced with the same question.

The reality is, the “enforcement only” policy of arrest, detain and deport have done little to nothing to curb undocumented immigration. In fact, the obsolete policy has only succeeded in separating families and dividing communities. And, until Congress passes fair and just Immigration Reform, the destructive pattern of dividing families and communities will continue.

We commend Sheriff Isham and his office for having the courage to do the right thing.

Sheriff rejects foreign-born criminal holding plan Salem Statesman Journal, April 23, 2009



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