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Washtenaw County Sheriff signs national letter to immigrant communities

Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force pens letter to encourage trust, safety

Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton. (Credit: Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office)

ANN ARBOR – Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton has signed a letter penned to immigrant communities across the U.S. by the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force.

The LEITF was started in 2015 by 63 police chiefs and sheriffs nationwide who oppose an executive order by President Donald Trump issued that year that deputizes local law enforcement officers to carry out the duties of federal immigration agents. Under the order, if law enforcement refuse to perform immigration checks, their cities could risk losing federal funding. 

Clayton, along with 58 other law enforcement officials, signed the letter urging continued communication with local law enforcement and the importance of trust, despite recent events like the Aug. 3 shooting in El Paso, Texas, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Mississippi. 

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According to LEITF's website, the task force's six principles are:

  • When immigrants feel safe in their communities, we all feel safer.
  • State and local law enforcement should target criminals, not contributing members of the community.
  • Federal law enforcement should refocus its priorities toward catching serious criminals and security threats.
  • A larger legal workforce encourages respect for the rule of law.
  • Immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility.
  • State and local law enforcement need adequate resources.

Read the full letter below:

Dear Immigrant Communities:

As members of the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force (LEITF), we want to assure you and communities across the country that local law enforcement serves to keep everyone safe.

Following the tragic Aug. 3 shooting in El Paso, Texas, and raids the following week in Mississippi, we know that many immigrants in our communities are afraid. We are here to serve all communities.

Our primary job is to maintain public safety. To do that, we need your trust. We want you to feel safe in our communities and comfortable calling law enforcement to report crimes, serving as witnesses, and asking for help in emergencies. When you feel safe and comfortable reaching out to us, we can keep everyone safer.

We need and are committed to protecting everyone in our communities. We cooperate with federal law enforcement to respond to threats in our communities —when our safety is at stake. But immigration enforcement is, first and foremost, a federal responsibility. We want to focus our limited state and local resources on threats to public safety and security.

Your trust is paramount to state and local law enforcement's ability to maintain public safety. Please continue to call on us. We are here to serve everyone who lives here and committed to keeping everyone safe.

See the complete list of signees here.

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About the Author:

Meredith Bruckner

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.