“County policy must provide safeguards that address the weakness found in many of the ICE detainer requests in order to adequately protect our residents," Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos said.
Mineola, NY – June 1, 2017 – Facing the Trump administration’s recent dramatic rhetoric and aggressive immigration enforcement policies which have been affecting many Nassau County residents and have left vulnerable immigrant communities in fear of detainment without due process, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos sent letters to the Nassau County Executive on April 10 and on April 27, 2017 to urge Nassau County to publicly clarify the County’s Policy on detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) in order to allay community fears, protect due process rights of residents and ensure that individuals on the “terrorist watch list” are apprehended.
The letters addressed serious concerns about the current Correctional Center’s procedures with respect to ICE detainer requests, some of which appear to rely on subjective judgment by non-judicial personnel which may result in individuals being unlawfully detained. Nassau County Correctional Center has been honoring ICE’s voluntary, non-judicial detainer requests and detaining individuals beyond the time that those individuals would have otherwise been released.
Furthermore, the Sheriff’s response on behalf of the County Executive did not address the policies of Police Department and Juvenile Detention Center with respect to ICE detainers, which remain unknown.
“The uncertainty in County Policy regarding the County’s law enforcement agencies combined with weaknesses in the Correctional Center Policy on ICE detainer requests has created fear in our immigrant communities and may result in certain residents being denied due process and thus lead to potential liability to the County," said George Maragos. “Furthermore, ICE’s detainers have been known to be subject to abuse and racial profiling. Other Counties that complied with ICE’s detainer requests have been sued for their alleged violation of an individual’s constitutional rights.”
In the absence of a clear County policy being articulated to all County law enforcement agencies and to the public, we may have unequal and subjective enforcement resulting in false detentions, liability, fear in our immigrant communities and reduced public safety as many residents may find themselves afraid to cooperate with the police to report crimes or utilize government resources as a result of their immigration status, a civil nor criminal violation.
Comptroller Maragos stressed that, “County policy must provide safeguards that address the weakness found in many of the ICE detainer requests in order to adequately protect our residents and confront the pervasive fear spreading in our immigrant communities. Such a policy must also provide protections to ensure that individuals on a terrorist watch list are apprehended and detained even without ICE detainers.”
Despite the Comptroller’s effort to urge Nassau County Executive to take appropriate, prompt action, the County remains silent. The County must be proactive in reviewing and strengthening its immigration policy and in communicating a uniform policy so that ALL County residents have the right to utilize government resources without fear of arrest and deportation regardless of their immigration status.