Garfield County Sheriff Accused Of Referring Domestic Violence Victims To ICE For Deportation Hearings
According to a release today from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Garfield County Sheriff's Office in Colorado has been turning over domestic violence victims to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities. The release says individuals have faced deportation proceedings because they reported acts of domestic violence to law enforcement.
"When undocumented victims of domestic violence are referred to ICE as a result of reporting the abuse to law enforcement, the signal to the undocumented population is clear," said ACLU Staff Attorney Rebecca T. Wallace in a statement. "If you call the police to report domestic violence, you may end up being deported."
In 2006, Colorado passed Senate Bill 90; the legislation mandated Colorado police departments notify federal officials if an undocumented immigrant had been arrested. A statement from the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police at that time questioned the law, explaining, "the already difficult task of gaining the trust and cooperation of illegal immigrants and their families in the overall community safety effort will become virtually impossible."
A clause of Senate Bill 90 prohibits law enforcement officials from reporting immigrants to ICE until "the arrestee is convicted of a domestic violence offense." While other county sheriffs in Colorado have since emphasized this position on domestic violence reporting, Garfield County has not.
In a letter from the ACLU and the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) to the Garfield County Sheriff, the groups assert that the sheriff’s department automatically reports to ICE all domestic violence arrestees whom they suspect to be undocumented, without waiting to learn if the person is convicted.
The Roaring Fork School District, within Garfield County, faced scrutiny in September 2011 after allegations surfaced that the school resource officer in Carbondale, Colorado, had been profiling students and their families and reporting them to ICE for deportation. Latino students currently comprise about 52% of the Roaring Fork School District's student body.