ACLU Florida urges U.S. leaders to end 287(g) deportation program Collier uses

Dania Maxwell/Staff
Grey Torrico, Coordinator of Collier County Neighborhood Stories Project, speaks to fellow protestors who gathered in Immokalee in opposition to the 287(g) policy which allows for the collaboration between the Collier Sheriff's Office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Sunday, October, 21, 2012 in Immokalee, Fla. 'These laws exist to divide the people, and we will not be divided,' Torrico said. About 150 protestors marched to the Sheriff's Office to deliver just over 1,700 signatures from Collier County residents who are in opposition to 287(g).

Photo by DANIA MAXWELL // Buy this photo

Dania Maxwell/Staff Grey Torrico, Coordinator of Collier County Neighborhood Stories Project, speaks to fellow protestors who gathered in Immokalee in opposition to the 287(g) policy which allows for the collaboration between the Collier Sheriff's Office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Sunday, October, 21, 2012 in Immokalee, Fla. "These laws exist to divide the people, and we will not be divided," Torrico said. About 150 protestors marched to the Sheriff's Office to deliver just over 1,700 signatures from Collier County residents who are in opposition to 287(g).

Howard Simon, Florida ACLU Executive Director, on NewsMakers 10-28-12.

Howard Simon, Florida ACLU Executive Director, on NewsMakers 10-28-12.

Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk on NewsMakers 11-18-12.

Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk on NewsMakers 11-18-12.

Should Collier County continue with its 287(g) program?

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— In a letter to state-based politicians Friday, the ACLU of Florida urged an end to a controversial immigration enforcement policy in which Collier County participates.

Under scrutiny is the 287(g) policy, set to expire at year's end, that allows local police to act as immigration enforcers.

The program "does not belong anywhere in Florida," said Howard Simon, ACLU of Florida executive director, in a letter to Florida's U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, a Republican, and Bill Nelson, a Democrat, along with outgoing Rep. Connie Mack IV, R-Fort Myers, and several other state and local officials.

Rubio and Nelson weren't immediately available for comment Friday; Mack's office declined comment.

The ACLU contends the policy leads to racial profiling and "generating fear and a marked mistrust of police among both documented and undocumented individuals in the Latino community."

About 50 organizations in Florida signed the letter, including locally the Redlands Christian Migrant Association, Interfaith Action and the Naples United Church of Christ.

The ACLU's national office submitted a similar letter Friday to Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security, the agency that oversees immigration policy.

The Collier County Sheriff's Office is one 57 law enforcement agencies in 21 states currently participating in 287(g), and Sheriff Kevin Rambosk has been a vocal proponent of continuing the policy locally.

After the ACLU of Florida made public its appeal Friday, Rambosk countered the letter in a written statement to the Daily News:

"In the petition, the ACLU has questioned whether the CCSO is '100 percent focused on public safety' if our resources are used to enforce federal immigration law," Rambosk wrote. "Since the inception of this program in Collier County, those individuals set up for removal proceedings under the 287g program (here) have been responsible for the commission of over 27,000 crimes nationwide.

"I would leave it up to the community to decide if removing those individuals has a nexus to public safety; I would suggest that it clearly does," Rambosk stated.

Data obtained by the Daily News in September showed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) processed 4,316 people for deportation from the county since the 287(g) partnership began in 2007 between the Collier Sheriff's Office and ICE.

The Collier and Jacksonville sheriff's offices were singled out by the ACLU of Florida, as they are the agencies most actively involved in detaining undocumented immigrants through 287(g).

The 287(g) program allows law enforcement officers who have been federally trained to question and detain individuals suspected of being in the country illegally. The detainees then are turned over to ICE and ultimately go before an immigration judge, who determines whether they will be deported.

The policy is criticized for casting a net so wide in immigration enforcement that undocumented immigrants are detained and removed for minor offenses, which the administration repeatedly has said isn't the priority for the program.

The letter comes a week after the ACLU of Florida created an online petition to raise awareness around the state about the program. It received 2,000 signatures, according to the organization.

"Ending 287(g) will ensure that local police attention is 100 percent focused on public safety in their communities by leaving immigration enforcement to federal authorities where it belongs," the petition read in part.

Grey Torrico, an activist who has organized social actions locally against 287(g) and sits on the ACLU of Collier County legal panel, pushed for the statewide petition.

"Earlier this year, we thought it (the program) was going to be eliminated. We're trying to make sure that happens," Torrico said Friday.

The Department of Homeland Security announced in February it would scale back 287(g) in favor of Secure Communities, a database-sharing program that allows local and federal law enforcement agencies to share immigration status information.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 1

lapalabra writes:

We do not rule our community/state/nation by who can shout the loudest. By who can threaten the most. The ACLU was never elected by the people to represent them. Illegal immigration is stall against THE LAW. If you disagree with THE LAW, then vote to change it. Do not scream. If you do not have the right to vote then you are a felon or here illegally, ie, a criminal.
Why doesn't the ACLU call for a public referendum on this? Because the public will side with the law and support the Sherrif who is protecting them and doing his job. If you think you had it better in your country, by all means return there and see if it is how you remembered it. No? I am writing MY elected representatives - Rubio and Mack -- in support of continued enforcement of 287(g). I commend the sherrif.

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