[The following letter was written to the City Council of Grimes, Iowa by Sandra Sanchez, AFSC Iowa Immigrants Voice Program Director.]
I am writing to express my opposition to the opening of a new facility for purposes of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention in the City of Grimes. I am afraid that it will bring negative attention to the City of Grimes in two ways: increasing cases of racial profiling, and making of this detention facility the main face of the city. Is that what you want for Grimes?
As a community member who lived in Granger for more than ten years, I witnessed the expansion of Grimes with encouragement but I also witnessed instances of racial profiling during my residence in the area and while serving on the Polk County Sheriff’s Citizen Advisory Committee. Then, other minority leaders of the community and I had the opportunity to assess the unexplainable increase in the number of Latino drivers stopped by law enforcement officials in that segment of the highway as they commuted from or to Perry, Iowa. After several meetings and an internal investigation, the issue was positively resolved but it would be sad to see it re-emerge. It would bring negative publicity to the city you serve.
What we need in Grimes and everywhere else in Iowa are sources of economic and population growth unrelated to increasing the number of people we keep incarcerated, people who in most immigration cases have no criminal record and are productive members of our communities and devoted heads of families, brothers, sisters and friends. You may know that any real population growth in our state has been thanks to immigrants and refugees who made of Iowa their new home; otherwise we would have lost more than one Congressional seat! Most of these people have not had the opportunity to attain a legal immigration status because our current immigration system is broken and Congress has failed to propose a reasonable and fair solution.
Therefore, we in the AFSC’s Immigrants Voice Program urge you to SAY NO to such a detention facility and instead join us to urge Congress to address the broken immigration system by offering a realistic and fair process to those undocumented to become legal residents of our state and our country.
Thanks for taking into consideration this information, and please feel free to share it with other decision makers in your city. If you need further information on the issue, please do not hesitate to contact me at my office.