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ACLU of WA and NWIRP Warn Police Departments of Faulty Immigration Policies

January 24, 2018

The ACLU of Washington and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) have written a letter to law enforcement agencies state-wide informing them of the recent settlement of a lawsuit against the City of Spokane following the unlawful detention of a Spokane resident who was held for immigration authorities after he was the victim of a car accident. The letter warns local law enforcement agencies that they could be exposing themselves to liability if they continue to use immigration enforcement policies provided by Lexipol, a for-profit company which provides policy language to public safety agencies.

A copy of Lexipol's "Immigration Violations" policy with annotations by the ACLU of WA highlighting civil rights concerns

A copy of Lexipol’s “Immigration Violations” policy with annotations by the ACLU of WA highlighting civil rights concerns

The ACLU of Washington and NWIRP cite research by the UW Center for Human Rights, which filed public records requests to obtain local law enforcement agencies’ policies relevant to collaboration with immigration enforcement activities. Our report, “Don’t Ask, Do Tell,” found that local police departments and county sheriffs across the state use Lexipol policies which raise human and civil rights concerns, including allowing officers to detain people for civil immigration enforcement investigations.

As the ACLU of Washington explains in an annotated copy of Lexipol’s “Immigration Violations” policy, local police have neither the legal authority or training to enforce federal criminal immigration offenses. The ACLU’s analysis points to multiple passages in Lexipol’s policy which are in conflict with the Washington State Constitution, national legal precedent, and a February 2017 directive by Governor Jay Inslee regarding involvement of state agencies in federal immigration enforcement.

The City of Spokane agreed to change its policy regarding police involvement immigration enforcement as part of its settlement of the lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Washington and NWIRP.