Minneapolis, MN – On Jan. 12, immigrant rights activists protested outside the Hennepin County jail, demanding that Sheriff Stanek stop using the jail as a deportation machine. More people are deported from the Hennepin County jail than from any other jail in the state.
The protest was organized by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAc). MIRAc’s No More Deportations campaign is targeting Sheriff Stanek, demanding that he change policy in the Hennepin County jail to stop cooperating with the ‘Secure Communities’ deportation program, by ceasing to honor ICE hold requests. Jail-based deportation programs like Secure Communities are the main source of deportations and separation of families, which have reached record numbers, with well over a million deportations in the last four years.
When people are booked into county jails, they are now run through a national Secure Communities database and ICE flags people they want to interview. So even if a person is arrested without cause and isn’t charged with anything (as happens quite commonly with Latino, Black and Native people in Hennepin County), they still go through the booking process and can end up getting deported.
It’s not mandatory for county jails to hold people extra time (at the local jail’s cost)for ICE to come interview them, so many county jails around the country are deciding to stop honoring ICE’s hold requests. Most significantly, the California attorney general recently declared that jails statewide will no longer have to cooperate with ICE hold requests. Many counties in other states are also making the same decision, as they don’t want their local jails to be turned into conveyer belts to ICE’s deportation juggernaut.
Sheriff Stanek has a long history of antagonizing people of color and immigrants. Before he was sheriff, he admitted to racist conduct when he was an officer. He pushed for the state to adopt harsh anti-immigrant policies. He also antagonized progressive political movements like Occupy Homes, using heavy-handed tactics to carry out foreclosures, and he was in charge of the repressive police response to the Occupy Minneapolis encampment in People’s Plaza, which was on Hennepin County property, last year.
MIRAc’s No More Deportations campaign will continue to target Sheriff Stanek to stop deportations in Hennepin County jail. The next protest targeting Stanek will be Saturday, Feb. 16 at 9:00 a.m. in front of the jail at 4th Avenue and 5th Street in Minneapolis.