We begin our efforts in transformation by calling on our county officials to 1) stop all collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security (U.S. DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), 2) to pull out of the Department of Justice’s Countering Violent Extremism (DOJ’s CVE) program, and 3) to engage county residents in a conversation about how to transform our county criminal justice system to one that promotes true safety and wellness.
Though we expect our Sheriff, County Commissioners, County Attorney, and Chief Judges to uphold the best values of our community, they have not done enough to protect our immigrant neighbors, low-income residents, People of Color, Indigenous communities, and those struggling with mental health and addiction. This is unconscionable, unwise, and a poor allocation of our local taxes.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is terrorizing our communities with the help of our county governments. Sheriff Stanek and his team actively assist ICE in contacting and deporting county residents and until this December, Ramsey County was a holding site for ICE and the County still responds to ICE requests for information. The blending of immigration and criminal justice enforcement breaks the trust between our communities, making immigrants unwilling to report crime and thus more vulnerable to victimization. This makes all of us less safe. We want ICE OUT of our communities!
The Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) is a Department of Justice surveillance and policing program that profiles Muslim communities. Since its inception, CVE has taken on different names. But while the program names have changed, the purpose is clear: CVE and its associated programs seek to institutionalize racism and Islamophobia by asserting that Muslims are inherently violent. In Minnesota, this program was bolstered under Attorney General Andy Luger and continues to grow with local law enforcement agencies, local government, and school districts. It profiles, surveils, and polices Muslim communities, specifically targeted Black Muslim immigrant youth. We do not support any variation of a program that profiles and criminalizes members of our community based on racial, religious, and ethnic identities, and puts them at risk of imprisonment, detention, and deportation..
In addition, our counties currently rely on punitive criminal justice systems that result in inequitable treatment of poor, Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities and those struggling with mental health and addiction. They overuse warrants and bail and keep individuals in jail pre-trial solely for the inability to pay. They return individuals to prison who are on probation and supervised release even when they have not committed new crimes. They underinvest in proven measures to keep families intact such as affordable housing, health care, and adult and juvenile restorative justice/diversion programs. This is not okay. We can and must do better.
Our Counties must defend the dignity and civil rights of all of us who call Hennepin and Ramsey Counties home. This is a fight to defend the values and the integrity of democracy and the voices of the disenfranchised. The march towards the beloved nation, Dr. King’s dream, cannot be realized without our willingness to continue the struggle that many of our poor, Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities sacrificed for. Let us stand and deliver the message of hope and freedom.