HARRISBURG - A coalition of community advocates issued a statement today that offered critical feedback on the new immigration enforcement policy of the Pennsylvania State Police. While acknowledging some positive aspects of the policy, the groups expressed their strong concerns that the policy undermines public safety by muddying the lines between the state police and federal immigration authorities.
The coalition released the statement the same morning that the state House Judiciary Committee convened a hearing with state police leadership to discuss the issue.
The following can be attributed to Desi Burnette, statewide coordinator of MILPA (the Movement of Immigrant Leaders in Pennsylvania):
“Our hope is that everyone in our community can be safe and have a sense of security, particularly our children. When the line is blurred between police and federal immigration authorities, people’s security in our communities is eroded.
“ICE’s mission is to indiscriminately disrupt our communities and disrupt our families. And when the state police share information with ICE about people in our communities, they’re complicit in that disruption and make all of us less safe.”
The following can be attributed to Sundrop Carter, executive director of the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition:
“Our communities are strongest when everyone who lives in them feels welcome and safe. The published state police policy is less problematic than what they had two months ago, but it still falls well short of what people in our communities need to trust the state police. The policy allows and even mandates state police troopers to act as information gatherers for federal immigration officers.”
The following can be attributed to Golnaz Fakhimi, immigrants’ rights attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania:
“The new policy takes a few steps in the right direction by forbidding state police from honoring ICE detainers without a judicial warrant and forbidding them from holding people solely to investigate their immigration status.
“But the new policy still intertwines the state police too closely with ICE in a variety of ways that the law doesn’t require. It explicitly allows troopers to share with ICE information they’ve gathered about someone; it explicitly allows troopers to ask a person about their immigration status if the trooper believes they’ve broken any law; and it mandates reporting to ICE any foreign national incarcerated by the state police, including naturalized U.S. citizens.
“On the ground, this policy will enable the same bad practices by individual troopers that have proven incredibly damaging to families and public safety in our communities. The state police’s mission of ensuring safety for everyone in the commonwealth requires them to do better.”
Along with MILPA, PICC, and the ACLU of Pennsylvania, other organizations supporting the statement include CASA, Casa San Jose, Church World Service - Lancaster, Cumberland Valley Rising, Grupo de Apoyo e Integración Hispanoamericano, HIAS Pennsylvania, New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center.