This Week in the Mercury

Friday, December 21, 2012

Multnomah County Sheriff Will Stick With Deportation Policy, Despite Protests

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 12:18 PM

Despite protests and a lawsuit, Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Stanton says the county will keep enforcing the policies of federal deportation program Secure Communities.

We've documented the many local complaints about Secure Communities since its implementation in 2010: The program is supposed to target "high level" criminals who are in the country illegally, but it runs immigration checks for anyone who's suspected of a crime. In practice, Secure Communities winds up deporting far more low-level "criminals" than kingpins, like people who skip paying MAX fare, breaking up families and spending government resources to deport high school class presidents.

Immigration advocacy groups have targeted the county government, demanding they direct the sheriff to stop working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pursue dozens of deportations annually.The ACLU even filed suit against the sheriff, for "unlawful imprisonment" of an immigrant who a judge says should be released, pending trial.

It looked like the county might actually take the side of the immigrant advocates.

But! This week Sheriff Dan Stanton (whose undersheriff recently attended an anti-immigrant training) announced that Multnomah County is going to stick with the controversial program:

I have been informed that the Federal regulation as it stands today does not give me any discretion in deciding whether or not to comply with immigration, or ICE, holds. The regulation as written is mandatory, and despite disagreement from some members of the community I must follow the law and comply with immigration holds as prescribed by federal regulation. I was not elected to interpret the law, I was elected to enforce the law.

The feds say participation in Secure Communities is mandatory, but numerous counties have refused to enforce the provisions that have led to more deportations under the Obama administration than the Bush. Most notably, both Los Angeles and Chicago have stopped enforcing the policy,

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