It was a historic day in Norristown, PA this past Sunday (Jan. 5th). The Norristown Juntos committee held a town hall hosting Police Chief Talbot to listen to the experiences of the Latino immigrant community in regards to their history and experience with local police.
One of the main issues discussed at the event were immigration holds. A civil immigration detainer, also known as an immigration hold, is a request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to local law enforcement officials. It asks local officials to detain an individual in their custody for 48 hours longer than they otherwise would, to facilitate transfer to ICE. Juntos leaders have analyzed and identified this practice as a key factor in the growing sense of fear and mistrust towards local police on behalf of immigrant communities.
Certain cities, counties and states have taken steps to rebuild trust between local police and the community by passing policy addressing immigration holds. They include Santa Clara County, California, Cook County, Illinois, Miami Dade, Florida as well as Newark, NJ which refuses to honor any detention holds regardless. It appears Norristown might be added to the growing list of municipalities doing this as well.
After a presentation from Juntos Norristown leaders on the significance of ICE holds, Chief Talbot commented and said to the crowd, “I will make myself available any day this week to sit down with representatives of your organization to draft a policy that ends the immigration holds… the Norristown police department is not going to fight against you any more we will fight with you.”
Juntos leaders of Norristown were thrilled to hear the warm response. “We’re going in the right direction to work with the authorities and for them to treat us with dignity,” said Juntos leader Gelacio Vasquez.