Protesters gathered at the Families Belong Together March in front of the White House on June 30, 2018

Protesters gathered at the Families Belong Together March in front of the White House on June 30, 2018

The Trump administration’s planned deportation of roughly 2,000 families has already been delayed for over a week; by the weekend after Independence Day, the raids may well be set into motion unless Congress (now on recess through the weekend) comes to an immigration solution that satisfies the president.

D.C. is not on the list of 10 cities where the families reside, but Baltimore is — and just hours after the delay was announced, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made two arrests in D.C. Confusing language may be behind three local Prince George’s County residents being placed in deportation proceedings after run-ins with local law enforcement.

Activists throughout the region are bracing for increased law enforcement activity and holding emergency “Know Your Rights” trainings. Local law enforcement in jurisdictions from Montgomery County to Arlington County are putting out statements saying they will not cooperate with ICE activities. What that means in practice, though, is a complicated legal question that could vary widely from one jurisdiction to another.

We’ll speak to a Washington Post reporter and an immigration lawyer to break this down and answer your questions.

Produced by Maura Currie


  • Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg Immigrant Advocacy Program Director, Legal Aid Justice Center
  • Arelis Hernández Reporter, The Washington Post; @arelisrhdz
  • Nancy Navarro Montgomery County Council President; @nancy_navarro


  • 12:00:02

    KOJO NNAMDIYou're tuned in to The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU 88.5, welcome. Later in the broadcast cyber security companies are struggling to fill jobs in the Washington region. We'll hear what organizations are doing to attract the diverse workforce and what's at stake if these positions remain vacant. But first, on June 22nd President Trump announced that the wave of Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE raids he'd ordered were being delayed for two weeks. It looks like those raids may very well take place after the Fourth of July.

  • 12:00:31

    KOJO NNAMDIAbout 2,000 undocumented families in 10 cities are on ICE's list. And while the DMV is not on that list there's been activity here as well. Local law enforcement can play a role in ICE detentions both actively and in advertently. Many local jurisdictions have said they won't be participating in raids. But it turns out there's some question as to what that really means. Joining me in studio is Arelis Hernandez. She's a Reporter for The Washington Post covering Maryland politics and government. Arelis, good to see you again.

  • 12:00:59

    ARELIS HERNANDEZGood to be here.

  • 12:01:00

    NNAMDIAlso joining us in studio is Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg. He is the Immigrant Advocacy Program Director at the Legal Aid Justice Center. Simon, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:01:09


  • 12:01:10

    NNAMDICan you explain how President Trump's proposed raids are different than regular ICE enforcement activity?

  • 12:01:16

    SANDOVAL-MOSHENBERGSure. The main difference is that these raids are targeted against families with children specifically families that have come over across the southern border in the past three to four years. And all of whom have deportation orders. Usually because they were given a court date that they missed often because they didn't even where the court date was, how to get there. Maybe they're here in Virginia or Maryland and the court date is all the way down in Texas and they have no way of getting there. So that's really the fundamental difference between this raid and previous raids that we've seen such as in February of 2017, August of 2018 is that this time they're going after mothers and kids.

  • 12:01:50

    NNAMDIHow do local law enforcement entities play into this work and what does it mean to be a sanctuary city?

  • 12:01:57

    SANDOVAL-MOSHENBERGWell, sanctuary city is not actually a legal concept. It's a political concept. So you can have seven different definitions of sanctuary city and anyone can decide that they are or aren't. How many non-cooperation policies are necessary before you cross the threshold into being a sanctuary county is, you know, subject to debate. But really what ICE generally does nationwide when they do large scale operations is they don't have detention capacity for, you know, to pick up 100 -- 150 folks at one time and take them into their regular detention facilities, and in fact, with regards to this raid, because they're picking up children, it's been reported that they intend to use hotels as short term detention facilities for these families with children.

  • 12:02:41

    SANDOVAL-MOSHENBERGSo the question is not are local police going to be, you know, side by side with ICE kicking down doors and what not. Of course that sort of was never in the question. The question is, you know, if ICE is going to be, for example, holding immigrant families at some motel down on Route 1 in Hybla Valley, Fairfax, and they ask the Fairfax County Police Department to provide perimeter security for that hotel or to provide security if there's a protest out in front of that motel, will the Fairfax County Police Department cooperate with that request? Because that's really what is more likely to happen not direct participation and raids.

  • 12:03:15

    NNAMDIWe don't know the answer to that question.

  • 12:03:17

    SANDOVAL-MOSHENBERGRight. So what we're calling on is for all the local jurisdictions to first of all say no if they receive any request of this nature, right? If ICE wants to literally round up mothers and children they need to do it by themselves with no help. But second of all if a police department gets a request of this nature they should let their elected officials know so that the elected officials can inform the community.

  • 12:03:38

    NNAMDISimon, which jurisdictions in our region are considered to be sanctuary jurisdictions?

  • 12:03:42

    SANDOVAL-MOSHENBERGWell, again, since sanctuary jurisdiction isn't actually a legal term, it's more a question of whether you choose to identify yourself as such. D.C., for example, many people would consider a sanctuary jurisdiction. In Virginia we usually don't use that concept. We sort of more talk about policies of cooperation or non-cooperation with ICE. And in my view we actually have to move away from talking about cooperation, which is a deliberate act and start talking about facilitation, which is broader. What are things that local jurisdictions do even inadvertently that facilitates ICE in doing its job.

  • 12:04:16

    NNAMDIIn this conversation we're focusing on what happens with undocumented people, who do not have criminal records. But briefly how do criminal convictions change what ICE can or cannot do?

  • 12:04:27

    SANDOVAL-MOSHENBERGSure. Leaving aside folks who are picked up coming across the border and then released into the D.C. area, the number one way that people in the interior of the United States find themselves in deportation proceedings is by taking a trip through a jailhouse. And at least in Virginia, for example, there is not a single jail in all of northern Virginia that has stopped the policy of making what they call courtesy calls to ICE to let them know when undocumented immigrants are found in the jail.

  • 12:04:54

    SANDOVAL-MOSHENBERGSome of the jails let ICE in to pick up the immigrants. Others of the jails essentially make ICE wait outside the front door to pick up the immigrants. But all of the jails in northern Virginia are cooperating with ICE in at least some form or another.

  • 12:05:06

    NNAMDIAnd that's regardless of the reasons that these people find themselves in that jail?

  • 12:05:11

    SANDOVAL-MOSHENBERGYeah, unfortunately, you can find yourself in jail for a third offense driving without a license. Get sentenced to one weekend in jail and that's enough to find yourself all of a sudden in ICE detention.

  • 12:05:22

    NNAMDIArelis, your reporting lays out a form of ICE activity that involves local police departments, though, seemingly not on purpose. Tell us about that.

  • 12:05:29

    HERNANDEZYeah. So for several months I had been tracking and collecting cases of undocumented immigrants that had contact with Prince George's County Police or other local police departments, because there's several municipalities in the county. And in several of those cases these were folks who had final deportation orders, but did not have any kind of criminal record what so ever. And it was things like the woman featured in my story, Claudia Ramos, who was actually waiting for a crash report. She was the victim of a fender bender and ended up in ICE's hands as a result of that contact.

  • 12:05:58

    HERNANDEZAnd what was happening was Prince George's County Police officers were running these names because in Maryland undocumented immigrants can get driver's license running these names through the National Criminal Information Database getting a hit that said "Warning" somewhere on their screens or something that made them alert to this person. And they were picking up the phone and calling ICE and ICE would come to the scene.

  • 12:06:23

    NNAMDIIs it standard practice to defer to federal authorities in situations like this?

  • 12:06:28

    HERNANDEZIn most situations it is, but in this case the politicians in Prince George's County and in other Maryland jurisdictions have openly said that, we don't do this. This is not a practice that we have in place. We don't notify ICE. We don't inquire about immigration status when we come in contact with folks on the street for relatively minor, you know, traffic offenses or whatever it may be. But in this case what Chief Hank Stawinski in Prince George's County said was that officers were getting confused and that they didn't know that the warrant that was appearing on their screen was actually for a civil administrative warrant, which is something completely different from a criminal warrant.

  • 12:07:04

    NNAMDIJoining us now by phone is Nancy Navarro. She is the Montgomery County Council President. Nancy Navarro, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:07:10

    NANCY NAVARROThank you so much, Kojo, for the invitation.

  • 12:07:13

    NNAMDIWhat is Montgomery County's policy on cooperating with ICE?

  • 12:07:16

    NAVARROWell, first let me say, you know, that this is definitely a challenging issue for local jurisdictions, because we're dealing with Congress's inaction to pass comprehensive immigration reform and now we're dealing with the current president's obsession with stoking fear and division by vilifying our immigrant communities. And I think that for many jurisdictions like Montgomery County, you know, this issues has evolved, right? So it was all the way back in 2009 when there was a directive that would bar officers from conducting indiscriminate questioning of suspects, witnesses, or prisoners about immigration status. 2013 there was a refinement of this particular issue and there began to be much more of a policy that was trying to, you know, put in place exactly what the role of our local police department should be.

  • 12:08:06

    NAVARROAnd undergirding all of this has been the notion that, you know, our local police department is not there to implement any type of federal type of actions. You know, that we have a local police department and that's it. We're not going to deal with federal issues of that source. So they're not there to be an arm of ICE. And in 2017, it became even more refined so that basically there are certain directives, right? Officer is not allowed to ask about citizenship status unless there's a reasonable basis for suspicion of state or local traffic or criminal charges.

  • 12:08:42

    NAVARROOfficers may assist ICE agents, when assigned to a task force or during criminal investigation, but only if the primary focus is clearly a criminal investigation. And so things like gang investigations, human trafficking, money laundry, narcotic cases, but even in those circumstances officers have to have an authorization from an assistant chief or the director prior to participating. Also under that policy officers may request ICE delay the deportation of a victim or witness, who is deemed essential to a case, you know, should that individual be facing deportation.

  • 12:09:17

    NAVARROThere is a provision where corrections does submit fingerprints to the FBI as part required records check. And then, of course, the FBI does send that to ICE. If an immigration detainer is considered valued by a State Attorney General and that's either signed by a judge or if there's probable cause of a crime that has occurred then corrections honors it. And corrections does let ICE know the release date, but they won't hold anybody waiting for ICE to arrive. And part of it is how we balance this issue of public safety with protecting our families and protecting our residents, especially because -- here in Montgomery County, specifically we do have over 34 percent of our population is foreign born.

  • 12:10:04

    NAVARROJust a couple of weeks ago we received an update from Montgomery County Public Schools in terms of their enrollment. And it was very interesting to see that in 2018 the International Student Office had processed 3,215 students in the entire year, but as of April of 2019, they had already processed 3,787 international students. And so we do know that there is an uptick. And so, you know, part of it, again, has been this constant, you know, responsibility and this constant pressure on local jurisdictions to be a welcoming county. And this is something that Montgomery county has always been proud of.

  • 12:10:48

    NNAMDIWell, this is clearly an evolving situation. So contextualize if you will the statement on the Montgomery County website. Quoting here, "Montgomery County is not a sanctuary jurisdiction. Local police and the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation work cooperatively with ICE in their work on immigration and customs violations and drug and human trafficking."

  • 12:11:09

    NAVARRORight. And I think that your guest had it correct. That, you know, the issue of a sanctuary designation is not a legal designation, because different jurisdictions will do things a little bit differently. And so once, again, for us has been this balance of how do we protect our public safety, because, you know, many of our own immigrant communities tend to be the victims. For example, you know, gang activity, gang criminal activity, human trafficking, etcetera. So we do need to make sure that we're protecting all of our residents, but specifically our immigrant communities, who tend to be disproportionately victimized by these folks while at the same time ensuring that, no, our police department will not go provide perimeter security if there's ever a scenario as it was described earlier.

  • 12:12:00

    NAVARROWe've put in place a crisis action response plan. It's something that I requested in January of 2017. So that each agency has a protocol in case there are these types of deportation raids. You know, in case children come home and their parents have been deported so that the school system has a protocol. That each agency has a protocol and that our police department understands exactly what it is that they're expected to do. You know, we're in the process of hiring a new police chief, and I've had these conversations with the executives about the importance of making sure that this new administration, this new police chief, that they're very clear at to what it is the Montgomery County stands for and what it is that we will or will not do.

  • 12:12:43

    NNAMDIHas the Council or the police department received any updates from federal authorities on whether the raids are pending this week?

  • 12:12:50

    NAVARROWe have not. But, again, you know, back in January 2017, I requested this action plan precisely so that we would be ready in the event of an unfortunate situation like this, and so that there would be somebody assigned a liaison at the executive side as well as on the Council side, and that each particular department and agency have protocols in place. More importantly our police department, because, you know, we have had issues especially when the first executive order went through and was announced, you know, I would get messages, text messages, Facebook messages of rumors, of, you know, agents have just boarded a ride on bus in Wheaton.

  • 12:13:30

    NAVARROYou know, and so we had to constantly work to make sure that we could verify and hopefully, you know, curb the misinformation. Hearing from parents that would not send their children to school, because, you know, what people don't understand is that there are many households that have mixed status families and so this creates extraordinary disruption.

  • 12:13:51

    NNAMDIWe understand that, but we're running short on time. And I think Arelis Hernandez has a question for you.

  • 12:13:55

    HERNANDEZYes. Council President, in Prince George's County there are a couple of councilmembers considering something like the Trust Act at the state level. Do you think that Montgomery County could benefit or should pass something like a Maryland Trust Act, which would clearly delineate in the law at what point, you know, local jurisdictions can or cannot cooperate with ICE?

  • 12:14:15

    NAVARROYou know, I have a few thoughts on this issue. One of them is that given the current situation with our current president and the fact that he can just come up with all kinds of executive orders at any time, when you have a law, you don't have the flexibility. You're not as nimble to adapt and protect your residents. I think this is why Montgomery County having policies that are very specific, but can also be altered if we need to, to me it's very attractive.

  • 12:14:39

    NAVARROI've also heard from a lot of the residents, you know, in our immigrant communities. I represent Wheaton, which has the largest number of Latino residents in the county. You know, and one of the things that they keep telling me is that they really don't want us to engage in a full blown, you know, legislative process that will then put the spotlight in such a negative way, because they know that they will be then the ones who will be affected the most. And so I think that for me right now, I think that we have done a pretty good job.

  • 12:15:08

    NAVARROYou know, we also want to be mindful that if there are ever, you know, instances where this is not working as well, that we need to tweak whatever we need to tweak. But I think having policies allows us in an uncertain time to respond and to modify versus having something in legislation that then you would have to go through an entire legislative process to amend to something. If you want to react to what this president seems to what -- you know, his absolute unpredictability tends to be a challenge as well.

  • 12:15:37

    NNAMDINancy Navarro, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:15:39

    NAVARROThank you so much, Kojo. I appreciate it.

  • 12:15:40

    NNAMDINancy Navarro is the Montgomery County Council President. We're talking about local police and ICE compliance. And here now is Mike in Alexandria. Mike, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:15:50

    MIKEGreat. Thank you. I think it's entirely appropriate for local law enforcement to help ICE or any other federal authorities to do their job. If there's a judicial order out there that says, hey, you need to leave. Then I think that judicial order deserves respect.

  • 12:16:08

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. Because we also have Elliot saying over email, just as states are required to set a minimum drinking age of 21 or risk losing highway funding, states should be required to comply with ICE detainers or risk losing law enforcement grant funding from the federal government. To which you say, what, Simon?

  • 12:16:25

    SANDOVAL-MOSHENBERGI think the basic problem with that premise is really the same problem with what Councilwoman Navarro was saying, which is it assumes that ICE is a public safety agency, which in this day and age it is not. And the way you know that ICE is no longer a public safety agency is that they took the Obama era priorities list under which ICE enforcement was conducted under sort of various finely striated lists of priorities -- we can debate whether those priorities were the right ones. But no one can disagree that they had priorities.

  • 12:16:52

    SANDOVAL-MOSHENBERGAnd the very first thing that Trump did on immigration, it was even days before the Muslim ban came out is he took those lists of priorities. He threw it trash. And he said, from now on here's the new priorities memo. Every undocumented immigrant is a priority. So that's not a public safety agency. That's in fact counter to public safety. So all of these policies that come from a place of, you know, law enforcement should cooperate with each other in the interest of public safety. All those need to be revisited now given that ICE is no longer acting as a public safety agency.

  • 12:17:22

    NNAMDIGo ahead, Arelis.

  • 12:17:24

    HERNANDEZAnd I'd like to clear something else. The caller mentioned a judicial warrant. Let's be very clear on the verbiage that we use. The detainers are civil warrants, and the way that Chief Stawinski, remember I sort of said, these are like subpoenas. You don't have police officers out there acting on subpoenas from the court. So we're not -- we're two different things. Judicial criminal warrants are one thing. Civil immigration, administrative warrants and detainers are completely different thing.

  • 12:17:47

    NNAMDIOn to Marco in Washington D.C. Marco, your turn.

  • 12:17:51

    MARCOThank you. I want to start with saying that President Trump is my boss. I've never met him. I don't intend to, but I'm a member of the military. And having to hear and see what he does every day is very difficult to explain away to friends and family. My wife was not allowed in the country a couple of weeks ago on a perfectly valid visa. And she's telling me every now and then, should I just come in? Should I just cross the border and come in and be able to be together with you regardless of the visa. And I got to tell her, don't do it because we're going to live together with that sword hanging over our heads every day, because of the whims of the president one day deciding that he's going to round up this and that category of people in this and that area.

  • 12:18:47

    MARCOAnd so I never thought listening to these reports that it would touch so personally. I am completely against ICE getting any help from local enforcements, and I'm very glad to hear some of the participants not the callers, but the participants. The last one saying, that ICE is not a public safety agency. I never thought about it, but I totally agree.

  • 12:19:10


  • 12:19:11

    MARCOWhen -- yeah. Sorry. Go ahead.

  • 12:19:13

    NNAMDIMarco, thank you very much for your call. I interrupted you only because we're running out of time very rapidly. And I wanted to have Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg talk about what his organization, the Legal Aid Justice Center is doing in terms of running an increasing number of know your rights trainings. What are these trainings and what do they teach people to do?

  • 12:19:31

    SANDOVAL-MOSHENBERGSure. Well, ever since the tweet came out announcing this latest round of raids, we've seen levels of fear in the immigrant community that are comparable to early 2017. And, of course, we know that panicked people tend to make bad decisions, right? So we're seeing people do things like basically locking themselves in their apartment and sort of withdrawing from public life, which objectively is not a good way to protect yourself from raids given that the vast majority of these micro raids really take place at people's residences at six in the morning. So you're not in any way protecting yourself by sort of, you know, not going to work, not taking your kids to school or camp, not going to community activities, etcetera.

  • 12:20:06

    SANDOVAL-MOSHENBERGSo the main thing we're trying to do with these know your rights presentation is take some of the panic -- we're not saying don't be afraid. There's plenty to be afraid of, but we're at least trying to diminish some of the panic in the community and turn it into action. The two main things that we teach people and, of course, it's not just about telling people. It's about teaching people, because it's a very stressful situation. In brief, number one don't open the door. Number two exercise your right to remain silent.

  • 12:20:32

    NNAMDIAnd even though people may be fearing what they see as military or police authorities, you're telling them they have a right to remain silent and they should invoke that right.

  • 12:20:43

    SANDOVAL-MOSHENBERGAbsolutely. A lot of people think, well, look if I just cooperate with these guys maybe they'll go easy on me. Unfortunately that's not the case at all. As Arelis Hernandez mentioned ICE when they're doing these civil raids almost never have a warrant. So the only way that they get into someone's house is with consent, right? So if you decline consent, they pretty much have no option, but to wait there for a couple of hours and then move on to whatever the next address on their target list is. Likewise if they're doing random enforcement actions, they don't know who you are, and so obviously the color of your skin is not evidence against you in this country. So what they're really waiting for is for you to incriminate yourself by answering their questions.

  • 12:21:18

    NNAMDIAs to some of the effects of these policies, let's listen to Sarah in Bethesda, Maryland. Sarah, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:21:24

    SARAHHi. I'm calling to point out how important it is that undocumented people not be afraid of the police and how this fear that's being generated by the Trump administration has made an already dangerous situation much worse.

  • 12:21:43

    NNAMDIBut you have a specific example, right?

  • 12:21:44

    SARAHMy own sister was killed. There were people, who heard her screams and did not call the police and we feel that this was because they were afraid of the police because they were undocumented.

  • 12:21:59

    NNAMDIArelis, you've been covering this --

  • 12:22:00

    SARAHAnd I just think it's terribly important that this stops so that nobody is afraid to call the police.

  • 12:22:06

    NNAMDIArelis, you have been covering this issue. How significant is that?

  • 12:22:09

    HERNANDEZIt's a huge part of why people -- or agencies that do have these sanctuary-like policies or these non-cooperation, that's the reason they cite is that people are afraid. I mean, in Prince George's County specifically and in Maryland more broadly represent a huge swath residents in these jurisdictions to not have that group of people contact police in the event of a crime or having witnessed or testified is a huge blow to investigations and a drain on resources where police could be closing cases and they're not.

  • 12:22:41

    NNAMDIArelis Hernandez is a Reporter for the Washington Post covering Maryland politics and government. Thank you for joining us.

  • 12:22:46

    HERNANDEZThank you for having me.

  • 12:22:47

    NNAMDISimon Sandoval-Moshenberg is the Immigrant Advocacy Program Director at the Legal Aid Justice Center. Simon, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:22:56


  • 12:22:57

    NNAMDIGoing to take a short break, when we come back, cyber security companies struggling to fill jobs in this region, we'll hear what organizations are doing to attract the diverse workforce and what's at stake if these positions remain vacant. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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