New Castle County: “Safe and Inclusive Community”

17309136_10155101072575477_5204845744281267462_nPresident Trump and his followers’ anti-immigrant rhetoric has instilled fear in immigrant communities throughout the country. Across Delaware, immigrants—documented and undocumented—have avoided encounters with law enforcement and withdrawn from community activities and even necessary services like health care. Not only do Trump’s deportation plans threaten immigrants, they endanger the entire community. Regardless of personal legal status, immigrants are less likely to report crimes out of fear that they or their family members will be questioned, detained or even deported.

As residents of New Castle County, immigrants have rights to the public services the community provides, but Trump’s deportation campaign isolates immigrants by threatening their livelihood and uprooting families across the state and nationwide.

In order to address these problems, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer signed the “Safe and Inclusive Communities” Executive Order on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. The order reaffirms that the county police’s role is to keep the community safe by enforcing state and county criminal laws, not federal immigration laws, and to ensure that the community provides equal services and opportunities to everyone regardless of immigration status. Under this order, county officers and employees may not stop, question, search, or arrest anyone because of their immigration status, participate in joint immigration enforcement with federal authorities, ask about immigration status unless required by state or federal law, or deny county-funded services to those who are entitled to them.

Official actions like this one to protect Delaware’s interests in safe communities and non-discrimination benefit not only immigrants, but the entire community. When residents trust and work with law enforcement, law enforcement can work most effectively to protect everyone.

Meyer’s order is not a statement of opposition to federal immigration policy. Instead, it is a recognition of the separate and independent purpose of our local government and law enforcement, which is to keep all members of our community safe.

Other state officials should follow Meyer’s lead and preserve the roles of our state and local law enforcement agencies as bulwarks against crime and not deputies for a broken immigration system. The ACLU-DE has urged Governor John Carney to update Delaware’s state policy on immigration in light of Trump’s radical expansion of deportation efforts. By enacting this order, County Executive Matt Meyer is taking steps to ensure safety to all the members of the New Castle County community and remind people that the local government is an entity meant to help, not threaten, the people.

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