Temple study finds Pennsylvania counties frequently share info with ICE

The Sheller Center for Social Justice partnered with local advocacy groups and found that counties across the state are sharing the personal information of detainees with ICE.

Jennifer Lee, a professor at the Beasley School of Law, founded two clinics for the Sheller Center, a legal hub for social justice inquiry and advocacy. She helped author a report that found counties around the state have frequently shared information with ICE. | MAX SIMONS / FILE PHOTO

Numerous Pennsylvania counties assist the federal government in arresting and detaining immigrants, according to a Temple study released June 25.

The study found that local governments routinely provide information and resources to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to detain those accused of violating civil immigration law.

The report was authored by Sheller Center for Social Justice in partnership with Philadelphia-based Juntos, an immigrants rights advocacy group.

According to the report, counties in every part of the state share detainee background information like social security numbers, place of birth and citizenship status with ICE. 

“ICE is arresting immigrants that have lived in the U.S. for decades and lack any sort of criminal history,” said Jennifer Lee, a professor at the Beasley School of Law who contributed to the report, at a press conference at Juntos on June 25. “This federal government cannot do enforcement alone, they have that help from local county police departments.” 

Individual police officers make decisions to share information with ICE agents or provide resources with the agency, the report said.

Detention rates of immigrants in county jails rose as a result of local collaboration with ICE, with the rate in Clinton County more than quadrupling from 2014 to 2018, the report said. 

Members of the Southeast Asian community have watched their family members wait in detention centers for up to a year as they wait to be transferred to ICE, said Nancy Nguyen, the executive director of Vietlead, a Southeast Asian immigrant and refugee advocacy organization, at the press conference. 

“This report shows plainly, the gross abuse of human rights that are motivated in large part by profits,” Nguyen said.

The report is a call for allies to help immigrants and organize campaigns to hold elected officials accountable, said Miguel Andrade, the director of communications for Juntos.

“And if you are against this kind of attack and the misuse of our local police departments, then speak up and use whatever privilege you may have to help this fight move forward, ” Andrade said.

The Sheller Center created a toolkit that is available on its website for how to protect children against immigration raids in local school districts.

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