Groups Demand Transparency to Ensure Local Police are Accountable to the Communities They Serve
FREDERICK: Taking action after Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins canceled this year’s public meeting on the county’s 287(g) program, the Resources for Immigrant Support and Empowerment (RISE) Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland today filed an Open Meetings Act complaint regarding this denial of a necessary forum for Frederick residents to be informed and express their dissent over a program that commits county tax dollars to round up immigrants. The complaint challenges the complete lack of transparency related to Frederick County’s 287(g) program that the county has unilaterally been committed to by Sheriff Jenkins.
Residents of Frederick have expressed concerns over racial profiling and lack of accountability by the Sheriff’s office, which is working in conjunction with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Said RISE Coalition member Julia Becker: “287(g) legitimizes racial profiling, causes Frederick residents to avoid reporting actual crimes, denigrates the value and contributions of our immigrant neighbors, and gives Frederick County an inaccurate reputation of being unwelcoming. Without a public forum to express our dissent, the Sheriff is making it even more clear who he wants to provide public safety to, and it isn’t the immigrant community.”
287(g) is a program that gives a job meant for the federal government – immigration enforcement – to local law enforcement who receive little training and often use practices that amount to racial profiling. Three Maryland counties – Frederick, Harford and Cecil County – are actively using local police agencies to target and cage immigrants for ICE as part of the federal 287(g) program. This is disturbing because 287(g) agreements undermine public safety, encourage racial profiling, and weaken families that make our state strong.
At the end of May, Sheriff Jenkins canceled the Steering Committee meeting related to the 287(g) program, despite strong disapproval from Frederick County residents. RISE Coalition members have attended these meetings for the past two years. They have been fighting to get more information from ICE and the Frederick County Sheriff’s office about matters related to the 287(g) program, including deportation and arrest data. These meetings are a critical opportunity for Frederick County residents to obtain this important information and urge their Sheriff to listen to their concerns that the program allows for discrimination against Latinx residents.
The Frederick 287(g) program has faced enormous community criticism for its discriminatory policing of Black and Brown residents. Sara Medrano, a Latina Frederick County resident, endured racial profiling and illegal detention from two Frederick County sheriff’s deputies and is now suing the Sheriff for his and his Office’s illegal behavior.
Said Nick Steiner, ACLU of Maryland Immigrants’ Rights Fellow: “Meetings involving the 287(g) program must be transparent so that Frederick County residents may express dissent over the program. As an elected officer, Sheriff Jenkins must listen to the community concerns around the program, and may not shut down public meetings because he only wants to hear from his supporters. Especially when it comes to a program that causes trauma and fear, and hinders residents’ ability to live normal, productive lives, there must be public accountability.”
The RISE Coalition is being represented by ACLU of Maryland Equal Justice Works Immigrants’ Rights Fellow Nick Steiner.