Albuquerque four months delinquent in providing information regarding program to screen arrestees for immigration status
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) filed a lawsuit Friday, December 3rd against the City of Albuquerque for its refusal to provide information regarding the implementation of ‘Secure Communities,’ a federal program to screen arrestees for immigration status in Albuquerque jails. The lawsuit alleges that the City has effectively denied information to the ACLU that it is required to share under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA).
“As New Mexicans, we have a right to access documents and other information that are a matter of public record,” said ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson. “Our state IPRA exists to keep government open and accountable; it’s the law and the City of Albuquerque must comply with it.”
Upon receiving an IPRA request, a New Mexico governmental agency is required by law to provide the requested public information within 15 days. Should they fail to do so, they are deemed to have denied the request. ACLU-NM filed the original IPRA request on July, 16 2010 and has sent multiple follow-up inquiries in an attempt to obtain the requested documents. As of the date of this release, ACLU-NM has not received any of the requested information concerning the implementation of Secure Communities in Albuquerque’s Prisoner Transport Center.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security created the Secure Communities program for the alleged purpose of helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to identify serious criminal offenders who are unlawfully present in the United States. Studies show, however, that Secure Communities has largely targeted minor offenders and, in some jurisdictions, has led to higher levels of arrests of people who appear and sound “foreign.”
“Not only is the City of Albuquerque unlawfully withholding important public information from the people of New Mexico, but they’re needlessly wasting taxpayers’ money,” said ACLU-NM Managing Attorney Laura Schauer Ives. “Under state law, ACLU-NM is entitled to $100 in damages for every day the city is delinquent in responding to our public information request. Because of their noncompliance in this simple matter, the city owes ACLU-NM in excess of $18,000.”
In addition to seeking damages, the lawsuit also demands that the City of Albuquerque release the information regarding Secure Communities that ACLU-NM originally requested under IPRA in July, 2010.
ACLU-NM Managing Attorney Laura Schauer Ives represents the plaintiff in this case.
A copy of the complaint can be found here.
PRESS CONTACT: Micah McCoy, (505) 266-5915 Ext. 1003, or [email protected]