On Wednesday, March 22, DHS officers showed up on Twin Cities rapid transit lines. The DHS presence provoked a flurry of Facebook and Twitter posts asking what Homeland Security agents were doing on the trains. In his MPR News Cut blog, Bob Collins accurately noted:
“Far from bringing a sense of security, the officers appear to have caused some discomfort for passengers.
“A reporter for the Star Tribune says the Homeland Security police told passengers it wasn’t an immigration raid, they were just checking tickets.
“Why would anyone think it was a raid?
“Because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has Minneapolis and Hennepin County in its sights.”
That would be Monday’s news: Trump administration: These police agencies didn’t help feds with deportations (Washington Post, 3/20/17) and Hennepin County lands on new immigration list of ‘noncooperative jurisdictions’ (Star Tribune, 3/20/17)
The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota posted on Facebook on Wednesday afternoon:
“There have been concerns raised over Department of Homeland Security Agents on Metro Transit today. ILCM’s executive director has spoken with Chief John Harrington of the Metro Police and he asked us to reassure the immigrant community that these agents are not part of ICE. That they are not collaborating with ICE. And that they are from a different division of DHS that helps coordinate security in the event of a crisis.”
Metro Transit also has a page explaining its relationship with DHS.
Concern over DHS agents riding the trains seems like a logical response to reports, from Connecticut to California, about ICE agents making people afraid to report crimes to local police:
Latinos are reporting fewer sexual assaults amid a climate of fear in immigrant communities, LAPD says (Los Angeles Times, 3/21/17)
“Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday that reports of sexual assault and domestic violence made by the city’s Latino residents have plummeted this year amid concerns that immigrants in the country illegally could risk deportation by interacting with police or testifying in court.
“Beck said reports of sexual assault have dropped 25% among the city’s Latino population since the beginning of 2017 compared with the same period last year, adding that reports of domestic violence have fallen by 10%. Similar decreases were not seen in reports of those crimes by other ethnic groups, Beck said.”
Hartford Mayor: ICE Agents Were Misleading In Attempt To Detain Immigrant (Hartford Courant, 3/20/17)
In what city officials see as a deceptive move, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, identified as “police,” attempted to get a woman to meet them at the public safety complex so they could detain her earlier this month….
“They have their job to do; we’re not preventing them from doing their job,” he said. “But the problem from our police department’s perspective and from my perspective is that by identifying themselves in a way that makes them look like local police officers, it undermines the trust that our officers have worked so hard and so long to build.”
Besides putting pressure on undocumented immigrants, the Trump administration is pressuring cities to collaborate in its deport-a-palooza:
Trump moves sanctuary city fight to front burner (The Hill, 3/22/17) The Hill’s excellent article includes interviews with mayors from several cities across the country, presenting a thorough exposition of the issues involved.
“On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its first report listing jurisdictions that refuse cooperation with federal immigration authorities — a step designed to put public pressure on sanctuary cities…
“The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) on Tuesday questioned the constitutionality of ICE detainers and the truthfulness of the DHS report.
“It lists jurisdictions as non-compliant that are currently complying with federal law, the City of New Orleans among them,” the group said in a statement….
“To comply with detainers, local law enforcement must often retain prisoners after the constitutional period of pre-trial detention has ended, or, in the case of convicts, after they have served their sentences.”
And in other immigration news today:
What does ‘Get in line’ mean in immigration debate? (San Diego Tribune, 3/20/17)
“For most people who might want to come to America, there is no line. Potential immigrants generally need a family member or employer in the U.S. as a sponsor before they can seek entry. And those who have such a host face waits that many would consider unreasonably long.
“Mexican brothers and sisters of American citizens who applied to come to the United States legally almost 20 years ago are just now getting green cards.”
L.A. County sheriff expresses sympathy for immigrants, but says sanctuary bill could hurt them (Los Angeles Times, 3/21/17)
Fearful farmers rush to find ‘guest workers’ (NPR, 3/22/17)