12 September 2023- U.S. Congressman David Trone (MD-6) has sent a letter urging Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to terminate an immigration enforcement agreement between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland.
The letter from Frederick County’s representative in the U.S. Congress follows an administrative complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Maryland in July seeking an investigation by DHS into the propriety of continuing an immigration enforcement agreement under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act following Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins’ federal criminal indictment.
The letter highlights what they say is a pattern of harassment and targeting of Black and Latino people based on perceived race and ethnicity; unwarranted traffic stops; use of deadly force; and poor conditions in the local jail, which is overseen by the Sheriff’s office.
“The Sheriff’s Office also oversees the local jail where, in March 2023, dozens of detained individuals complained that following a sewage system collapse, they were surrounded by human feces for hours. They described being forced to sleep in their own feces and locked into their cells, instead of being moved to another location,” the letter reads.
“Although Sheriff Jenkins is free to disagree with current immigration policy and has the right to express his views, the federal government can, and should, refuse to grant federal immigration powers to individuals like Jenkins who use their platform to stoke hatred and fear of immigrants — and thereby undermine public safety for all,” the letter continues.
“The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office has demonstrated that it’s unfit to use its federal immigration powers in a lawful and impartial way. The egregious actions of Sheriff Jenkins under this program are unacceptable, and it’s time for the federal government to take a stand in defense of civil rights across Maryland,” said Congressman David Trone. “I urge the Biden-Harris Administration to take action to end this immigration enforcement agreement and restore public safety to our community. Having partnered with the ACLU for over 25 years, I’m proud to work with them in this effort to ensure Marylanders are protected.”
“The Black and Brown immigrant community in Frederick have endured the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office’s misconduct under Sheriff Jenkins for far too long,” said Nick Taichi Steiner, ACLU of Maryland staff attorney. “The federal government should stop empowering a law enforcement official who seems to believe he is above the law, who is xenophobic against immigrants in the community he is supposed to serve, and who has been indicted for federal crimes. Enough is enough.”
“The Biden administration should not hand anti-immigrant sheriffs federal enforcement authorities, which they have exploited to discriminate against our neighbors and loved ones,” said Naureen Shah, ACLU senior legislative counsel. “The 287(g) program undermines public safety by making residents afraid that any interaction with law enforcement could lead to unfair targeting and deportation of themselves or their family members.”
Read the full letter here.