Jackson ignores federal, state immigration law and violates public records laws, drawing legal challenge from MJI

The Mississippi Justice Institute (MJI) filed a complaint today at the Mississippi Ethics Commission stating that the City of Jackson is illegally destroying Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers.

“Jackson blatantly violates the law by throwing ICE detainers in the trash can,” said MJI Director Shadrack White. “When MJI asked the City of Jackson what they did with ICE detainers, the City said they do not keep or maintain those records.”

ICE detainers are 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 until ICE can take custody of the illegal immigrant.

“Jackson has a responsibility to keep ICE detainers so they can be examined by the City’s taxpayers and citizens. Jackson residents deserve to know how many people who should have been deported are now walking the streets.”

In January, MJI filed a public records request with Jackson, asking for documents related to ICE detainers received by the Jackson Police Department. City officials acknowledged to MJI that “[t]here are not records kept or maintained by the department regarding detainer or immigration hold request” (sic).

Mec Complaint Final as Filed by yallpolitics on Scribd

That response led MJI to file the fifth major case in its history. MJI has also sued Jackson over its onerous regulations on new taxi businesses, has defended the rights of Mississippi charter school parents in a landmark constitutional case, and has fought to make local politicians obey open meetings laws in two other cases.

This is not the first time Jackson has been in hot water over its immigration policies. In November 2017 and January 2018, the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice sent letters to Jackson warning that the City had adopted dangerous “sanctuary policies” protecting illegal immigrants. Jackson was one of only 29 jurisdictions in the country to receive such a letter, joining places like San Francisco and Berkeley.

“Thanks to the Department of Justice, we found out that Jackson tells its police officers they cannot ask for information about the immigration status of someone they arrest. That’s a violation of federal immigration law and the state law banning sanctuary policies. Now we also know that when ICE asks Jackson PD to hold an illegal immigrant for deportation, Jackson simply throws ICE’s request in the garbage,” said White. “It’s a reckless policy.”

“Jackson needs to follow the law and keep its streets safe,” added White. “City leadership needs to show some compassion for good, honest folks who just want safe neighborhoods. Throwing away requests to hold illegal immigrants who have been arrested for a crime is no way to do that.”

“We’re prepared to take this matter all the way to the Mississippi Supreme Court if necessary,” said White. “We’re going to stand up for law-abiding Jackson residents and everyone who cares about government transparency. With this complaint, we hope the Ethics Commission will demand that Jackson stop destroying ICE detainers.”

“Someone has to demand that Jackson obey the law, and that’s exactly why the Mississippi Justice Institute exists,” said White.

Mississippi Justice Institute Press Release

2/5/2019