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Washington, D.C. has become the latest in a growing number of mostly liberal states and localities that is ignoring U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), when ICE asks these states and localities to hold suspected criminal illegal aliens for ICE to pick up.
Last month, Washington, D.C. passed an ordinance stating that it would no longer cooperate with ICE detainers for most suspected criminal illegal aliens. ICE detainers are holds, up to two business days, that ICE puts on municipal prisoners that it wants to pick up because ICE suspects these prisoners are also in the country illegally.
Normally, when ICE places a detainer on a municipal prisoner, those prisoners that would finish a sentence, be it because they made bail or finished their prison sentences, would still be held in order for ICE to pick them up. In Washington, D.C., local officials will ignore ICE detainers for all suspected criminal illegal aliens except those that have committed “dangerous crimes.”
Washington, D.C.’s city council passed this ordinance in response to the ICE program, Secure Communities, coming into effect in their jurisdiction. Secure Communities is an ICE data sharing program that gives ICE fingertip access to the personal information of all individuals detained in the jails of localities that cooperate.
Proponents of rights for suspected illegal aliens have hailed Washington, D.C.’s policy as a step in the right direction. Many liberal politicians and activists believe that Secure Communities has been used to unfairly target otherwise law abiding suspected illegal aliens.
D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson told the Washington Post that Secure Communities was heavy-handed and that the ordinance passed would promote community harmony.
“That works against community policing,” Mendelson said. “We want people who are victims to report crime, and we want witnesses to report crime.”
ICE, for its, part issued a magnanimous statement, saying that the agency hopes to work with localities to insure public safety.
“ICE remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners to help make our communities safer by focusing our resources on public safety and national security threats, border security, and the integrity of the immigration system,” said Danielle Bennett, a spokesperson for ICE.
Not everyone agrees, however.
“This is about public safety,” said Brian McCann. “This ordinance ignores public safety.”
McCann should know. On June 7, 2011, his brother, Denny, was killed by an illegal alien driving drunk in Chicago. The driver, Saul Chavez, was arrested at the scene. During a previous drunk driving arrest in 2007, he admitted to police that he was in the country illegally.
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