St. Paul, MN - On April 14, immigrant rights activists in Minnesota celebrated a victory as Governor Mark Dayton announced he would not pursue an Executive Order collaborating with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on deportations and enforcement programs.
Earlier on April 5, Governor Dayton announced he would let two Executive Orders concerning immigration enforcement left over from former Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty expire and that he would spend about a week deciding whether to pursue any new executive orders regarding immigration.
The first order he let expire was Pawlenty’s order mandating employers with state contracts to check new employees using the E-Verify federal immigration database. The second order was one that directed state agencies to pursue cooperation with ICE to carry out deportations and other punitive enforcement wherever possible, including the Criminal Alien Program (CAP) and 287g agreements with the Department of Public Safety, among other things. CAP is responsible for many deportations in Minnesota and is implemented in the county jails. 287g is a program that trains police officers to act both as local police and as Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents.
When former Governor Pawlenty, who is now running for the Republican presidential nomination, announced the immigration enforcement executive orders in January 2008, it touched off a firestorm of protests and criticisms. Most considered the executive orders to be little more than divide-and-conquer political grandstanding in an election year, yet the orders had a real effect in making life more difficult for immigrants in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAc) is waging a No More Deportations campaign which aims to stop Minnesota and its counties from collaborating with ICE deportation programs like CAP, 287g and Secure Communities. MIRAc put out a statement encouraging people to call Governor Dayton to demand that he not pursue any further collaboration with ICE on deportation or enforcement programs.
According to Niger Arevalo of MIRAc, “It’s good that Governor Dayton didn’t renew Pawlenty’s anti-immigrant executive orders. But this is just the beginning - immigrant workers are still being deported and families are being separated at an alarming rate in Minnesota and this has to stop now. The No More Deportations campaign wants to make sure that Governor Dayton does not implement the so-called Secure Communities deportation program. And we’re calling on the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners to vote to stop cooperating with ICE through the Criminal Alien Program. We encourage people to join our campaign to stop deportations in Minnesota.”