The back seat of every Minneapolis police squad car will soon display a message in English and Spanish: You have the right to remain silent about your place of birth, immigration status and everything else.
Mayor Jacob Frey has promised to keep Minneapolis safe for immigrants as federal authorities ramp up enforcement of immigration laws. After introducing the placards idea in his State of the City speech in May, Frey held a news conference Wednesday to reveal them to the public.
“Right now, cities have to step up and do what our federal administration and Congress won’t,” said Frey. “We will not let this lack of compassion at the highest levels of our government prevent us from doing what is right for our immigrant communities here in Minneapolis.”
Frey said the police administration, including Chief Medaria Arradondo, supports placards that clearly lay out immigrants’ rights when going to jail.
Yet not all of the rank-and-file are enthusiastic. Lt. Bob Kroll, who represents the police union’s more-than 800 members, has been a consistent critic of the city’s immigration agenda, and said officers want to enforce immigration laws.
“With 200 shooting victims in the city year to date, the political response is to be sure and advise people who are here ILLEGALLY of their rights, while in the back of a squad car. It’s simply insane,” Kroll said in a statement Wednesday. “Thankfully we are less than four weeks from elections and we can possibly begin to restore the safety of our citizens with help at the state level.”
A recent burst in violence put Minneapolis’ total shootings at 185 as of late September, which is 18 fewer than the same time last year, according to police data.
Frey declined to respond to Kroll’s comments. But in the news conference, he said previous statements made by the union leader run “counter to everything we stand for in Minneapolis,” and are contradictory to the laws.
Minneapolis has a “separation ordinance” that prevents city employees, including police officers, from questioning people about their immigration status. It’s meant to encourage anyone to call services like 911 without fear of deportation.
Frey and the City Council have been vigorous defenders of these policies, while the Trump administration has called for more aggressive enforcement and criticized “sanctuary cities.”
“If people don’t trust that they can come forward and report information to police, that’s a problem,” City Attorney Susan Segal said at the news conference. “It’s an American principle to know your rights and be apprised of your rights.”
The placards also recognize that an arrestee’s journey through the criminal justice system doesn’t always end with the Minneapolis police, advocates say.
“People being transported to Hennepin County jail may end up speaking with an ICE agent, and they need to know their rights,” said immigration attorney Kara Lynum.
Lynum cited a Pew Research study that found immigration arrests rose 67 percent in the Twin Cities region from 2016 to 2017.
She said her clients facing threat of deportation commonly speak Spanish, so it’s logical for the city to include the list of rights in both languages.
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