LatinoJustice PRLDEF shared the following media release and letter with Latino Rebels on Thursday:
NEW YORK, NY — Immigration and legal advocates are urging Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to end ICE’s prioritization of those labeled as gang-involved for detention as part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to racial equity and ending mass incarceration.
In a letter to Mayorkas, 69 organizations and legal scholars say ICE’s focus on so-called gang affiliation is problematic because gang labelling is based on factors that are “highly vulnerable to discriminatory enforcement.”
The letter calls on Mayorkas and the Biden Administration to end the prioritization of persons for detention and deportation who are labeled as gang-affiliated, as described in the February 18 interim United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Civil Immigration Enforcement and Removal Priorities memorandum.
The groups say:
- Black, Latinx, and immigrant persons are grossly overrepresented among those labeled gang-affiliated by law enforcement.
- The criteria for gang labeling are notoriously vague and thus ripe for arbitrary and discriminatory application.
- Errors in gang databases have also been well-documented.
- Prioritizing people with a “gang-related” conviction may well target non-gang members and individuals who plead out, not because of guilt, but rather because of the coercive force of RICO and similar charges used to prosecute people of color alleged to be gang-affiliated.
This is the letter: