Friday, June 20, 2008

Frederick County Sheriff Says Its Okay to Detain US Citizens of Mexican Descent

as long as they are picked up for a traffic violation. (He admits those detained for ICE were largely picked up for traffic violations.)

In other words, get picked up for a fender bender or DUI in Frederick County, Maryland, and instead of being released for time served, which is usually what happens in such cases, if you are of Mexican descent you could find yourself being turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement until you prove your US citizenship. (And, as shown in previous posts, sometimes even that isn't enough.)

Antonio Ramirez, a 20 year resident of Frederick County, told the Governor's Commission of Hispanic Affairs on Wednesday that when he walked down the main street in town people call him a "wetback."

"I am a citizen, and I am afraid," he said. "Now I understand what the Jewish people went through. "(Frederick County Sheriff) Jenkins is destroying families and the economy."
And no wonder. Most of the police and sheriff departments turning US citizens over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement claim they are only detaining aliens. Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins responded to Ramirez's charges by saying: "There's no one in that detention center (who hasn't) broken the law."

I had asked the person who told me about this event to post it in a "reply" to the blog, mentioning that people seem to prefer to write me directly rather than posting. Here's what I received:

I think people may be fearful to post to your blog. If you think about it, ICE's system is the perfect tool to silence dissent. Once a person ends up in the immigration system due process is flushed down the toilet.

Below is a link to an article from my local newspaper regarding the meeting I attended the other night.

Here's some background (I will try to be brief) on what is going on in my community. Frederick County, Maryland is maybe 1.5 hours north of Prince William County, Virginia. During the 1990s one of the entrants into the local demolition derby drove a klan car. Even today, it is not uncommon to see confederate flags.

When the current sheriff ran for office in 2006 he ran on an anti-immigrant platform. When he got into the office he started working on obtaining 287(g) authority for his office. He claimed that he "needed" this authority because crime is out of control due to the large influx in of "illegal" immigrants (now synonymous with Latino/Hispanic in my town).

Interestingly, data from the FBI's uniform crime database and the Census doesn't seem to support the Sheriff's assertion. In February 2008 the Frederick County Sheriff's Office signed a Memorandum of Agreement with ICE. There was no public discussion, in fact the director of the county's Human Relations Division sent him a copy of questions, and she left it to his discretion as to whether to respond.

The last time the President of the local NAACP spoke with him about meeting, the Sheriff said what's the point, I don't understand what the objectives are. He also said that we have nothing we shouldn't be worried about profiling or discrimination, because ICE is monitoring how he uses 287(g) authority. Obviously he missed the entire 2007 ICE Halloween Party incident.

Now the Sheriff does have time to meet with the local Republican Club, including minutemen and help save Maryland members. During his presentation he said that 48 people had been detained using 287(g) authority, and mostly for traffic infractions. If his assertion is correct I'd think that most of those detained would have been picked up for committing felonies, or at least misdemeanors.

Our sheriff has asked people in public meetings if they are illegal, and at one meeting with people from the Latino community he said something like I'm a redneck and I wish my county were the way it was 30 years ago.

Your blog is definitely a must read, and I've been telling other friends in the community about it.

My guess is that wherever you are, this is happening where you live, too. If you have any examples of this you'd like to share, feel free to send them my way and I'll post them here. Also, this image of Sheriff Chuck Jenkins is from the Frederick County home page; maybe he needs some more mail on this supporting the writer above.

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