BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Over a dozen community organizations have signed a letter asking the Birmingham City Council to vote against a proposal that would extend an agreement between city police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
On Monday, members of the local groups met outside Birmingham City Hall to expression their opposition to the proposal, which is set for a vote during the Birmingham City Council meeting Tuesday.
“Further entangling our local police force with ICE would have extremely harmful effects on many Birmingham residents,” the letter stated. “This ordinance, if passed, would ultimately make Birmingham residents less safe from violence and crime, perpetrators less likely to be held accountable, and our police force less effective in protecting our community.”
The following organizations signed the letter opposing the ICE agreement:
- Adelante Alabama Worker Center
- Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice
- Alabama NAACP
- Beloved Community Church
- Birmingham DSA
- Birmingham Mutual Aid
- Cell A65
- Dynamite Hill-Smithfield Community Land Trust
- Glen Iris Neighborhood Association
- Greater Birmingham Ministries
- Saint Junia United Methodist Church
- SWEET Alabama
The partnership between the police department and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations division allows the agencies to designate certain Birmingham police officers as “Customs Officers authorized to enforce the full range of federal offenses, excluding administrative violations of immigration law.”
The proposal to extend the partnership, which was submitted to the council by Mayor Randall Woodfin and recommended by Police Chief Patrick Smith, faced public opposition when it was first considered during a council meeting in November.
At that meeting, Woodfin defended the proposal, arguing that the language of the ordinance already prohibits Birmingham police officers from “engaging in any form of deportation.”
“It’s very clear in the language,” he argued.
At last week’s “committee of the whole” meeting, council members listened while a city attorney read new, additional language that he said clarified that Birmingham police would not participate in deportations.
Espino said ACIJ believes the changes don’t go far enough to protect immigrant communities.
“We are not satisfied with the changes that were made,” Espino said. “Immigration is criminalized, and anything in our daily lives can potentially be a reason why we’d be targeted by the department.”
LaTonya Tate, chair of the council’s public safety committee, said she had no comment on the issue at this time.
Other members of the Birmingham City Council did not immediately respond for comment as of Monday night.
The Birmingham City Council is expected to consider the ICE agreement at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 7. Meetings are held on the third floor of City Hall and are streamed live on the council’s Facebook page.
Below is the full letter from the organizations opposing the ICE agreement.
Letter to city councilors regarding ICE agreement by CBS 42 on Scribd