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Sanctuary City Case

What happens when the Jackson Police Department receives a letter from the federal government telling them to hold an arrested illegal immigrant until the immigrant can be deported? Does Jackson hold the illegal immigrant or ignore the request?

This is the question that prompted the Mississippi Justice Institute (MJI) to file a public records request with Jackson in January 2018. Jackson’s answer back was shocking: Jackson Police Department simply throws requests to hold illegal immigrants in the garbage.

MJI then filed a complaint at the Mississippi Ethics Commission stating that Jackson is illegally destroying these Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers. ICE detainers are the letters the federal government sends to local law enforcement when ICE believes local police have arrested someone who is in the country illegally. ICE detainers ask local police to hold those suspects for 48 hours until ICE can take custody of the illegal immigrant.

When Jackson was asked questions about ICE detainers, Jackson acknowledged that they do not keep or maintain the records. Jackson also has a city regulation that prohibits police officers from asking for information about the immigration status of someone they arrest.

Policies like that make Jackson one of America’s 29 “sanctuary” jurisdictions according to the Trump Administration. Jackson is the only city in Mississippi identified as a sanctuary city. Other sanctuary cities around the country include San Francisco and Berkeley.

MJI’s complaint at the Mississippi Ethics Commission asks Jackson to stop destroying ICE detainers and to produce information about how it has treated detainers. It also asks for fines to be levied against city officials who broke the law. Destroying public records like ICE detainers is a misdemeanor.

This case is important because Jackson residents deserve to know how many illegal immigrants were arrested and could have been deported but were instead released back into Jackson. Jackson residents deserve safe neighborhoods and a transparent government.

Filing Date
March 5, 2018
Original Court:
Mississippi Ethics Commission
Current Court:
Mississippi Ethics Commission
Case Status:
Shadrack White, Director, Mississippi Justice Institute

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