The Bloomington-Normal immigrant rights group Latinos United for Change has argued a Sheriff's department policy asking for federal immigration help identifying jail inmates, targets people for driving while immigrant. But, an examination of data made available by the Sheriff's Department does not bear that out. During the last 11 months, of the inmates held at the request of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, only 13% had no other legal problems save for the lack of a driver's license and insurance. Sheriff Mike Emery says you need a valid social security number to get a driver's license.
"And I also think that if they remove that requirement for some but not all, there's no way I could look at that legislation because I think that it would be discriminatory."
Emery says removing the social security number requirement for all drivers license applicants would weaken the system of proving identities. Latinos United for Change has argued families are being torn apart by the Sheriff's policy. WGLT examination of the data on 147 inmates held for ICE over the last eleven months and found that all but 19 had felony charges, multiple aliases, other convictions, or gang affiliation.
Latinos United for Change in Bloomington-Normal claims law enforcement is pulling immigrant driven vehicles over because of their skin color. But, only the Sheriff's department has come in for sustained protests. Most arrests that resulted in a federal hold request, though, did not start with the Sheriff's police. Data provided by Emery shows deputies originated a little more than one in four immigrant arrests that resulted in a federal hold. At times, Sheriff Emery sounds frustrated.
"They also contend that I also don't have to follow immigration law and I don't have to check identifications and that police shouldn't arrest them. That's it in a nutshell. None of which I will participate in."
Agency arresting immigrants subsequently held for ICE (April 2011-May 2012)
Bloomington Police 38%
Normal Police 21%
Sheriff's Department 27%
Other agencies 13%
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