TROY – The New York Civil Liberties Union said it will monitor the agreement that allows the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deputize members of the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office to work on immigration matters.
“The sheriff’s decision to deputize officers to work on behalf of ICE will sow distrust between immigrant communities and law enforcement,” Melanie Trimble, NYCLU Capital Region director, said in a statement.
“This agreement was made without public input and disregards the needs of the people of Rensselaer County. The NYCLU will be closely monitoring implementation of this agreement to ensure that civil rights abuses including racial profiling, which have accompanied such programs in other states, do not occur in Rensselaer County,” Trimble continued.
The NYCLU sent a letter to Sheriff Patrick Russo Tuesday criticizing his agreement with ICE.
The sheriff’s office will have two corrections officers trained by ICE, Russo said. The training will not occur for several months, he said. These officers will check to see if there are immigration holds on any prisoners held in the Rensselaer County Jail, Russo said. If there is a hold, Russo said, ICE would be notified of a prisoner’s release date. He said no one would be held beyond their release date.
“It’s another tool in my toolbox to increase the community’s safety for the residents of Rensselaer County,” Russo said.
The sheriff added that he would be violating his oath of office to protect residents if he did not take action.
None of the sheriff’s road deputies will receive the training, Russo said. Deputies will not be stopping vehicles to find out if drivers and their passengers are U.S. citizens, the sheriff said, emphasizing checks would be limited to checks at the jail.
In the letter, Trimble reminded Russo that by participating in the program, known as 287(g), “…you have chosen to directly entangle the sheriff’s office in the fraught task of enforcing federal immigration law. “
By Kenneth Crowe for TIMESUNION
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