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Golden Valley amends policing policy to protect the undocumented from unjust arrests

Last week, on September 12th, the Golden Valley City Council concluded a 6-month process of amending Golden Valley policing policy to protect undocumented people from unfair persecution and the legally tenuous practices of the ICE pipeline. This process was spear-headed by People Power of Golden Valley (an ACLU group) and supported by Progressive We Stand. Leadership from both groups met with Council members, supplied research, and spoke at public forums on the issue. It was a 6-month crash course on immigration policy in America, the urgency of the current political climate and what is happening to undocumented people, and the particular legalities of immigration policy in Golden Valley. This effort was greatly aided by volunteer immigration attorneys and others. The City Manager of Golden Valley also provided a useful overview of what comparable cities have done, including Robbinsdale, Roseville, St. Louis Park and others.

Although the City did not adopt all 9 policies recommended by the ACLU, they did adopt two amendments to address the crisis and ensure the constitutional protections that are the rights of all people within this country's borders. The City Council also indicated interest in pursuing a more qualitative welcome statement that includes undocumented residents as part of its larger diversity initiatives.

Perhaps most importantly, Golden Valley and its residents signaled their willingness and their ability to engage in respectful, productive and democratic collaboration to create change.

The two policy amendments are as follows:

1) Policing Impartially

NOTE: Section b, the term "immigration status was added".

a. Investigative detentions, pedestrian and vehicle stops, arrests, searches and property seizures by officers will be based on a standard of reasonable suspicion or probable cause in accordance with the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Officers must be able to articulate specific facts, circumstances and conclusions that support reasonable suspicion or probable cause for investigative detentions, pedestrian and vehicle stops, arrests, nonconsensual searches and property seizures.

b. Except as provided in paragraph ( c.) officers shall not consider race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, and religion in establishing either reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

C. Officers may take into account the descriptors in paragraph ( b.) of a specific suspect(s) based on information that links specific, suspected, unlawful or suspicious activity to a particular individual or group of individuals. This information may be used in the same manner officers use specific information regarding age, height, weight, etc. about specific suspects.

2) Community Policing

Community policing is essential to the success of the Golden Valley Police Department. To maintain our strong partnership with the community, our department does not enforce federal immigration laws, nor has it been our practice to do so. Furthermore, our department does not intend to ask community members about their immigration status and it is not our practice to hold individuals solely based on federal civil immigration detainers. However, we do notify federal authorities when we arrest a person for violating state or local laws and that person has been charged with a federal crime or is the subject of a detainer which is accompanied by warrant, affidavit of probably cause, or removal order.

NOTE: Basically this is protecting people who have no criminal law issues, which is roughly 50% of all undocumented people. This 50% has only administrative (i.e. civil) issues with immigration paperwork, but have broken no criminal laws, including in the way they originally entered the country. It is this group that has, disturbingly, seen the largest increase in ICE arrests, despite the fact that their infractions are no worse than, say, failing to update license tabs (also a civil violation, to give you an idea). Arrests of people with civil infractions only have increased 150% since the new administration took office, while criminal arrests remain on-par with Obama-era deportations. Source. It is important to note, that of those arrested for criminal activity, just 6% of that represents a violent crime such as homicide or assault, and the rest may be minor crimes.

Deportation numbers, in actuality, are DOWN, because the glut of arrests has resulted in an overwhelmed system. People instead wait in detention centers, some of which have made a tidy profit from the increase in holds.

We thank the Council, the City Manager and the Chief of Police for their attention to this matter, as well as their expressed willingness to evaluate the issue again in the future as the legal and political landscape continues to play out.

To see the revised language in the Golden Valley Police department's policy manual, refer to pages 36 and 37 of this link.

The two-page Impartial Policing Policy (pp 36-37), is the section of the 200+ page Golden Valley Police's policy manual that discusses treatment of immigrants. This was edited as a result of our efforts – see highlighted parts of the two pages for the new words ("immigration status") and new paragraph.

Also as a result of our joint efforts with People Power, the Golden Valley Human Rights Commission authored a Welcome Statement which has been adopted and widely published by the city, and includes immigration status language.




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