People who read my editorial in the previous edition deserve to know what has happened since then.
I have had conversations with several Latino and Anglo leaders. By leaders I mean people who serve the community at several levels.
The response was one of solidarity and many wish a follow up. Because of the holidays it has been difficult to have make progress, but already there are people contacting ACLU and other organizations.
I want the immigrant population to know that not everyone is against them. I also want to remind us all that we are inquiring into the matter not because of them, but because as citizens we have the right, and the responsibility to make sure that due process is followed in any legal matter.
One of the things that people look worldwide know is that the US is a place where people have rights.
According to law when a law enforcement agent stops you, whether it is the sheriff or any other police officer, you have the right to ask why were you stopped.
If you were speeding, your lights were not functioning, or any other traffic violation took place, then they may request to see your license. If you do not have one, they are supposed to give you a citation to go to court. By law, it is a judge who decides if you are to be fined or incarcerated.
In Indiana, neither police officers nor the sheriff are authorized to act as immigration officers. Therefore, they do not have authorization to ask for your immigration status.
If you are taken to jail you HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT. You also have the right to ask for your attorney.
This is what is called ‘due process’.
If you have an immigration hold, you do have the right to remain silent. You have the right not to sign anything, especially if you do not understand what you are signing. It is an immigration judge who is supposed to determine whether you will be deported or not.
That again is ‘due process’. I am sure that most citizens want everyone to follow the steps guaranteed by law.
The other matter to be considered is the length of time that some inmates spend in jail been transferred from one detention place to another. I imagine that it takes additional time and money for transportation, booking, etc, every time such transfers take place.
It is important that the community keep a watchful eye on the detention procedures. Lately we have read about citizens jailed for several weeks, and some have been threatened with deportation. (Immigration Crackdown Also Snares Americans, NYT, Dec 13, 2011). According to the article: “American citizens have been confined in local jails after federal immigration agents, acting on flawed information from Department of Homeland Security databases, instructed the police to hold them for investigation and possible deportation.”, and later it says: “Other cases of possibly illegal detentions of citizens have been recently reported in Allentown, Pa., Indianapolis and Chicago”.
If we let the law to be taken into anyone’s hands, bypassing the court system, we may be going back in history to the armed sheriff in the Old West, ruling the law. But we do have courts, attorneys, public defenders and laws to follow.
Many citizens are worried about the law not being followed at the time of the detentions. The starting point being that there has to be profiling if an officer “knows” that you do not have a license before you commit a traffic violation. It is called profiling, and it is also against the law.
El Puente will continue to publish articles that may help the general population, and we will continue informing the public about how the leaders respond to our community.
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