Group wants Austin police to stop asking about immigration status

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ICE Out of Austin rally_345444

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An immigrant-led group rallied in front of the Austin Police Department Thursday evening to get the police chief to make changes to become what would basically be a “sanctuary city.”

ICE Out of Austin wants Chief of Police Art Acevedo to prevent his officers from asking people about their immigration status. The current protocol says officers cannot arrest an immigrant for their immigration status, but it doesn’t stop officers from asking about a person’s immigration status. Over the past few years the debate about Secure Communities has really heated up between the Austin City Council and Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton, who is not seeking reelection.

In January 2009, the Travis County Jail started sharing fingerprint information to the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Immigration and Customs Enforcement automatically thru a program called Secure Communities (S-Comm). When an individual is arrested, their fingerprints are submitted to the FBI to check their criminal history. The FBI then sends that information to ICE to determine if an individual has immigration history. If that person does have immigration history, and may be removable, ICE will issue detainer on that person so that they are not released from custody before ICE is able to encounter the inmate.

Sheriff Hamilton has always said his department has to abide by federal law and will continue holding ICE detainees. Acevedo has spoken publicly about his concerns wit S-Comm.

“We need him [Acevedo] to be an ally with actions and not just words right now,” says Carmen Zuvieta, an immigrant organizer with ICE Out of Austin. “Right now our community is being picked up because of local policies and being shipped to private detention centers where our folks are being abused.”

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