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ACLU: New immigration order could have chilling effect in Indiana

February 21, 2017 | IndyStar | Link to Article

INDIANAPOLIS (IndyStar) - Department of Homeland Security orders issued Tuesday that mandate the quick deportation of undocumented immigrants could have a sweeping impact in Indiana, experts say.

The orders, reported by USA Today and other media outlets, instruct all federal agents, including Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to identify, capture and quickly deport all undocumented immigrants they encounter. The procedures mark the latest effort by the Trump administration to increase immigration enforcement.

Memos outlining the orders call for the hiring of 10,000 more immigration agents and give local police more ability to help with immigration enforcement, USA Today reported. They also allow planning to begin on an expansion of the border wall between the United States and Mexico.

While many of the details remain unclear, Ken Falk, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said the orders will have a chilling effect that could make solving crime more difficult for local police.

"One of the reasons local law enforcement is not eager to get involved in immigration enforcement is it discourages and prevents people here without status from reporting crimes," Falk said.

Undocumented immigrants, Falk said, will become easy targets for criminals because they are less likely to report a crime for fear of being deported.

A 2014 report by the Pew Research Center estimated that about 85,000 undocumented immigrants live in Indiana.

Undocumented immigrants convicted of a crime are the highest priority of the new orders, but the memos make clear that ICE agents should also arrest and initiate deportation proceedings against any other undocumented immigrants regardless of whether they are accused of a crime.

Falk said the new order may infringe on the rights of immigrants.

"When you are in this country, even without status, there are certain rights you have, including due process," Falk said.

Undocumented immigrants are more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators, experts say.

The Migration Policy Institute has estimated that about 820,000 of the 11 million illegal immigrants living in the country have criminal convictions. Research cited by the Cato Institute and the American Immigration Council indicates that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States.

Last week, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced theft charges against a woman accused of swindling $67,856 from 31 immigrants whom she promised to help gain residency documents.

Judith Palma met the immigrants at Indianapolis churches and is accused of taking payments from dozens of people seeking immigration services that she never provided.

"We have no doubt that individuals have been targeted due to an assumption about their undocumented status and related unlikelihood that they would report being victimized in a crime," Curry said in a statement Tuesday. "We continually encourage those who are victims of crime to come forward and report, regardless of residency status."

Marlene Dotson, president and CEO of the Indiana Latino Institute, released a statement Tuesday that said the orders "do not offer a common sense solution to handling immigration."

"Instead," she said, "they focus on reinforcing fear in the immigrant community by making almost every undocumented immigrant a target for deportation."

Mayor Joe Hogsett last week told a rally of about 1,500 people that Indianapolis would not spend money to enforce any policies that a court had ruled unconstitutional.

"As a city, we are committed with all stakeholders to ensure that not one dime of city resources funds anything that a court has determined to be discriminatory or unconstitutional," Hogsett said during a rally on the east side organized by the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network.

The Department of Homeland Security memos fulfill Trump's campaign promises to crack down on illegal immigration. Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for lower levels of legal and illegal immigration, said the memos capture many recommendations his group has been making for years.

"It's Christmas in February," Stein told USA Today. "What (Homeland Security Secretary John) Kelly has done is lay out a broad road map of regaining control of a process that's spun out of control."

The Department of Homeland Security posted a Q&A on its website about how the agency will implement the president's plan.

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CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this story stated Mayor Joe Hogsett had said the city would not spend money to enforce Trump’s immigration policies. This story has been updated to more specifically reflect his statements.