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Secure Communities Briefings for Local and State Law Enforcement

Concerns about the civil rights and civil liberties of individuals in communities where there is significant immigration enforcement activity are not unique to Secure Communities. The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are creating a series of training/awareness briefings designed primarily for use by front line state and local law enforcement agency personnel during daily muster/roll call briefings. The videos and other tools will address eight categories of civil rights and civil liberties issues and topics of importance.

Project Goals:

  • To provide actionable information to state and local law enforcement about the civil rights and civil liberties issues that may arise when ICE begins using a federal information sharing capability through Secure Communities in their jurisdictions.
  • To increase the transparency of the Department's active commitment to protecting the civil rights and civil liberties of all persons affected by DHS activities and programs.

This series of training/briefing materials is designed to be presented at daily briefings, as well as through in-service training. Each module contains a short video, downloadable job aids designed for line officers, and material for law enforcement leadership, such as planning tools and web-based resources. The modules are designed to be presented as a series, but any combination may be used to suit the needs of your jurisdiction.

The materials are designed for two distinct audiences – front line officers and law enforcement leadership (listed as Commander's Packets).

These videos are the result of a collaborative effort of the Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Introduction to Secure Communities: What Law Enforcement Needs to Know

This module provides a broad overview of the Secure Communities program for law enforcement. It emphasizes that Secure Communities imposes no new requirements on state and local law enforcement, noting that law enforcement attention or action should not be based on race, ethnicity, immigration status or limited ability to speak English. This module serves as the foundation for the remaining topics.

There are two versions of this video – a general version and a version for jurisdictions that also have a 287(g) agreement with ICE.

Please view the first and second videos to the right.

Commander's Packet

How to Respond to an Immigration Detainer

This module briefs officers about the immigration detainer process, including the details of the new detainer form and the responsibilities of law enforcement agencies when they receive detainers issued by ICE. In particular, this module highlights how detainees who allege a violation of their civil rights or claim U.S. citizenship can receive assistance.

Please view the third and fourth videos to the right.

Commander's Packet

For more information on how to respond to immigration detainers, ICE offers the following resources:

Consular Notification: Your Role When Detaining Foreign Nationals

This module discusses the legal obligations placed on law enforcement agencies with respect to consular notification when a foreign national is taken into their custody. It explains the importance of complying with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the risks of failing to do so. Supplemental materials include Department of State job aids for use by law enforcement officials.

Please view the fifth and sixth videos to the right.

Commander's Packet

For more information on how to fulfill requirements for consular notification and access, visit the State Department website:

Sample Forms. The State Department website also lists various sample documents that may provide assistance:

Free Materials. The State Department also provides certain materials to law enforcement free of charge, including a 72-page reference manual (one or two per location) and officer reference cards (one for every officer).

Legal Background. For more information on consular notification requirements, view the Congressional Research Service report on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. (PDF | 122 KB | 25 pages)

Unlawful Retaliation by Private Actors

This module assists officers in identifying potential abuses by landlords, employers or others who may be involved in conflicts with immigrants and may seek to manipulate police actions in retaliation as a result of these conflicts.

If you learn that a foreign national you have already arrested may have been the victim of retaliation, please notify your local ICE office immediately, so that it may coordinate, as necessary, with appropriate federal, state or local agencies.

Please view the seventh video to the right.

Commander's Packet

More on the ICE process and how it exercises its prosecutorial discretion:

Guidance on employment from the Department of Labor:

Guidance on Housing from the Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Community Outreach: Explaining Secure Communities to Your Community

This video highlights a law enforcement officer's role as liaison to the community. The video and related briefing materials provide tools to assist law enforcement in conducting outreach to immigrant communities and address, if necessary, public questions surrounding Secure Communities.

Please view the eighth video to the right.

Commander's Packet

Law enforcement leadership and community liaison officers may find the following resources for law enforcement on conducting outreach to immigrant communities to be helpful.

  • The Engaging Police in Immigrant Communities project is a "national effort to identify and assess promising law enforcement practices that cultivate trust and collaboration with immigrant communities." The survey of 1,000 jurisdictions with large immigrant populations evaluated practices from nearly 200 agencies and resulted in a 76 page report (2012), which includes a toolkit of resources gathered from the 10 profiled agencies across the country as well as a series of podcasts featuring local law enforcement.
  • The Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) offers several key resources.
  • The Building Communities of Trust (BCOT) initiative held a series of facilitated discussions among local law enforcement leaders, U.S. Attorney's Offices, fusion centers, and community representatives around the country and produced two booklets of interest to law enforcement. BCOT was the result of collaboration between the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, The Department of Homeland Security, the Information Sharing Environment, and COPS.
  • In Protecting your Community from Terrorism Volume 2, Working with Diverse Communities, COPS and the Police Executive Research Forum present issues and recommendations coming from police-community forums interspersed with personal narratives. The report has a particular emphasis on Arab or Muslim American communities. (PDF | 587 KB | 89 pages)
  • The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has published a report designed for police leaders, Police Chiefs' Guide to Immigration Issues, to assist law enforcement leaders to "craft reasonable approaches [to immigration] that can be accomplished in collaboration with governing bodies and community residents." (PDF | 410 KB | 48 pages)
  • The Police Executive Research Forum has two reports of particular interest to state and local law enforcement conducting outreach to immigrant communities.
    • The Voices from Across the Country: Local Law Enforcement Officials Discuss the Challenges of Immigration Enforcement report presents findings from a number of meetings with law enforcement officials and discusses how immigration issues affect the duties and responsibilities of local law enforcement. Of particular interest is the section detailing experiences working with immigrant communities (pp. 18-22) and discussing the need for strong relationships amongst stakeholders (pp. 27-31). (PDF | 2.11 MB | 68 pages)
    • Police and Immigration: How Chiefs Are Leading their Communities through Challenges. (PDF | 1.43 MB | 96 pages) This earlier (2007) publication "explores the role of six leading police departments in their communities' immigration debates, and how they navigated the challenges and pressures surrounding the immigration issue. Our six case-study jurisdictions were not chosen at random; these six cities have experienced some of the most contentious local battles on this issue in recent memory."

Assisting Certain Crime Victims and Witnesses: Immigration Enforcement Consequences and Protections

This module highlights three important issues involving aliens who are crime victims or witnesses to crime, including: ICE enforcement policies; actions that can encourage the reporting of crime and assist in investigations and prosecutions; and how law enforcement officers can help victims – whether here illegally or legally – obtain needed services and possibly qualify for important immigration protections from DHS.

Please view the ninth video to the right.

Commander’s Packet

ICE Enforcement Policies for Crime Victims and Witnesses

"Absent special circumstances or aggravating factors, it is against ICE policy to initiate removal proceedings against an individual known to be the immediate victim or witness to a crime." ICE Prosecutorial Discretion: Certain Victims, Witnesses, and Plaintiffs (PDF | 3.47 MB | 3 pages) Memo from Director John Morton (June 17, 2011).

Human Trafficking

Domestic Violence

  • Guidance from the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) examines police-community partnerships to combat domestic violence (PDF | 816 KB | 80 pages). The study surveys existing literature and reports findings from interviews with police departments across the country to recommend strategies for effective police-community partnerships.
  • The Police Chief’s Guide to Immigration (PDF | 410 KB | 48 pages) (p. 28-29), from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, discusses the implications for law enforcement of domestic violence on immigrant communities.
  • The Battered Women’s Justice Project offers a law enforcement guide for assisting immigrant victims of domestic violence (PDF | 220 KB | 8 pages) developed under a grant from the Office on Violence Against Women at DOJ.
  • The Domestic Abuse Intervention Project in Duluth, Minnesota has a graph representation of the complexities for immigrant women in abusive relationships available in both English (PDF | 1.61 MB | 1 page) and Spanish(PDF | 1.86 MB | 1 page).
  • Futures Without Violence (formerly the Family Violence Prevention Fund) has a brief guide on the power and control tactics used against immigrant women (PDF | 20.61 KB | 3 pages).
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline has a list of frequently asked questions and information for immigrants about domestic violence.
  • The National Immigrant Family Violence Institute has a webpage for law enforcement agencies with trainings and information on how to serve abused immigrants.

Immigration Relief

DHS provides several forms of immigration relief assistance to both victims of human trafficking and other qualifying crimes.

U Nonimmigrant Status (also known as U Visas)

U nonimmigrant status provides immigration protection to victims of qualifying crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the crime and who have been helpful, are being helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. U visas are intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens, and other crimes. The victim must submit a law enforcement certification (Form I-918B) of the victim’s helpfulness in the investigation or prosecution.

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Self-Petition

VAWA provisions allow certain battered spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents (Green Card holders) to file an immigrant visa petition for themselves, without the abuser's knowledge. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who is not notified about the filing. The provisions apply equally to women and men.

Continued Presence

Continued Presence (CP) is a temporary immigration status provided to individuals identified by law enforcement as victims of human trafficking. This status allows victims of human trafficking to remain in the U.S. temporarily during the ongoing investigation into the human trafficking-related crimes committed against them. CP is initially granted for one year and may be renewed in one-year increments.

T Nonimmigrant Status (also known as T Visas)

T nonimmigrant status is available for those who are or have been victims of human trafficking, protects victims of human trafficking, and allows victims to remain in the United States to assist in an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking.

Speaking Their Language: Working with Individuals with Limited English Proficiency

This module addresses your interaction with persons who have limited English proficiency and how effective communication is a key factor in preventing understanding that could lead to possible unintended immigration consequences following an unnecessary arrest. All recipients of Federal financial assistance (including nearly all police and sheriff’s departments) are required by Federal law and regulation to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to all programs and activities for LEP persons. This module offers practical tips drawn from state and local law enforcement experience on how to identify LEP needs and provide the necessary language assistance. The Commander’s Packet offers planning resources and tools, including an "I Speak" interpretation guide that can be used by front line officers.

Please view the tenth video to the right.

Commander’s Packet

Creating a Language Access Plan

Implementing a Language Access Program

  • Department of Justice videos explain the rights of limited English proficient (LEP) individuals under Title VI of the Civil Right Act of 1964 and its implementing regulations, as well as the obligations of recipients of federal financial assistance and federal agencies to provide language access to their programs and activities.
  • The Federal Agency Working Group on LEP’s Resource Document with tips and tools from the field (PDF | 328 KB | 88 pages) includes a checklist for law enforcement agencies on implementation of an LEP plan with lessons learned from several police departments (pp. 27-37).
  • DOJ COPS and the Vera Institute offer Overcoming Language Barriers: Solutions for Law Enforcement (PDF | 784 KB | 20 pages), a guide with recommendations for state and local law enforcement agencies on implementing language access policies and protocols. The report includes a glossary of terms relevant for language access (p. 6) and a concise checklist of strategies for ensuring language access (p. 15).
  • Bridging the Language Divide: Promising Practices for Law Enforcement (PDF | 3.24 MB | 68 pages), also available from DOJ COPS and the Vera Institute, details models and best practices identified in a national assessment of how police agencies overcome language barriers. It includes a wide array of sample orders, policies, translations, and documents.

Language Tools for Law Enforcement

Requirements for Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance

Avoiding Racial Profiling

This module addresses the risk of biased policing and how law enforcement officers and agencies can avoid illegally targeting individuals based upon race or ethnicity. It is important to know that ICE will not allow Secure Communities to be used as a conduit for improper police practices.

Please view the eleventh video to the right.

Commander’s Packet

  • Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Complaint Form
  • DHS Plan to Provide Training to State and Local Law Enforcement in Secure Communities (PDF | 110 KB)
  • Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion Consistent with the Civil Immigration Enforcement Priorities of the Agency (PDF | 433 KB)
  • ICE's Civil Immigration Enforcement Priorities Memorandum (March 2, 2011) (PDF | 385 KB)
  • ICE's Response to the Task Force on Secure Communities Findings and Recommendations (PDF | 944 KB)
  • Prosecutorial Discretion Memo: Certain Victims, Witnesses and Plaintiffs (PDF | 3.5 MB)
  • Secure Communities Complaints Protocol (PDF | 585 KB)