December 15, 2016
To the Honorable Mayor,
Due to collaboration between local and federal law enforcement, President Obama’s administration deported a record 2.5 million immigrants. This has happened while southern states have approved xenophobic laws in the last few years. Persecution of immigrant communities is facilitated by racial profiling and prejudice that remains to be acknowledged, and the resulting anti-immigrant climate promotes wage theft and labor violations. As a result, the Memphis multi-cultural and multi-ethnic immigrant community feels particularly targeted.
Anti-immigrant sentiment has increased during the Obama administration and shows signs of worsening with the incoming administration. Our worry grows due to the statements that
President-elect Donald Trump has made during his electoral campaign actively targeting Muslims, women, LGBTQIA+ people, migrants, and people of color. As the highest executive of our county, we ask that you defend our city as a place that values and protects all of its members, regardless of race, nationality, religion, or immigration status. Additionally, we are sending a similar letter to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and hope that this be a collaborative effort of both city and county.
In fact, at the November 10th meeting at El Mercadito, Mayor Strickland assured us that the
Memphis Police Department (MPD) does not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, and that currently MPD officers do not ask anyone questions about residence status. Are these policies also reflected within Shelby County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO)? If not, we ask that they be adjusted by instructing SCSO deputies to not cooperate with ICE and not to ask residence status questions. We also ask you to reject indiscriminate deportations, which often result in family and community separations. Specifically, we ask that you take the following concrete steps to ensure that the SCSO does not become another arm of the President’s deportation force:
- Adopt and implement formal policies to require the SCSO to cease collaboration with ICE and disallow any collateral arrests for immigration enforcement purposes;
- Reaffirm publicly that SCSO shall not detain anyone for civil immigration violations, shall refuse to collaborate with ICE in any capacity, and shall require ICE officers to produce a criminal warrant against a specific person prior to entering SCSO facilities, including the County Jail.
- Direct the SCSO to adopt written policies regarding item 2 above;
- Issue a formal request to the current and future federal administrations that fingerprints taken by the SCSO during booking be used only for criminal background checks, and for no other purposes, including civil immigration enforcement;
- Reaffirm Shelby County’s commitment to assist in the prosecution of wage theft, labor violations and other crimes committed against immigrants, regardless of immigration status;
- Commit that no local authority shall request information about or otherwise investigate the immigration status of any person; and
- Oppose any registry based on religious identity or national origin.
- Commit that the SCSO will not apply for any federal grant that requires cooperation with ICE.
- Finally, we request an inperson meeting to explain and discuss our concerns in more detail. Please respond to Comunidades Unidas en Una Voz, c/o MidSouth Peace and
Justice Center, 3573 Southern Ave, Memphis, TN 38111 , or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, January 9th, 2017.
We look forward to, and thank you, for working together to ensure that Shelby County joins the numerous communities around the nation that have acted to stand by and support those most targeted by the current hostile environment1 . If we are to preserve Shelby County as a diverse, welcoming community in which the civil and human rights of all residents are respected, we must act now.
Comunidades Unidas en Una Voz (CUUV)
and other organizations:
Coalition for Concerned Citizens
Detention Watch Network
Indigenous and Hispanic Student Association
Memphis A. Phillip Randolph Institute
MidSouth Immigration Advocates
MidSouth Latino Chamber of Commerce
MidSouth Peace and Justice Center
Youth and Police Relations cohort at BRIDGES Inc. CHANGE
Workers Interfaith Network
Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region
Muslims in Memphis
Pax Christi Memphis
Tennesee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC)
1 Since the presidential election, city elected officials and community advocates have responded by creating or strengthening welcoming cities policies.
http://www.sfexaminer.com/mayorleesfwillremainsanctuarycitydespitetrumppresidency/ http://fortune.com/2016/11/11/newyorklosangelessanctuarycitiesdonaldtrump/ http://fusion.net/story/370130/losangelessecondweekstudentwalkouts/