Immigration advocates rally at Mayor Adler’s office, demand action

January 26, 2016
Austin American-Statesman

Hilda Ramirez, 28, and her 9-year-old son fled violence in Guatemala and were taken into custody as soon as they crossed the border. They were held at an immigration center southeast of San Antonio for 11 months.

Ramirez and her son now live at a shelter in Austin. She said she is in constant fear they could get deported at any time, especially if a police officer notifies immigration officials.

“I suffered a lot there, I came to ask you for help,” Ramirez told Austin Mayor Steve Adler on Monday.

Ramirez and two dozen members of ICE out of Austin, an immigrant advocacy group, gathered at City Hall and asked Adler to pass a resolution to ban Austin police from communicating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The group is accusing police officers of asking people about their immigration status and sharing information with federal authorities.

“There’s not a lot related to national immigration policy that is in city’s hands. What’s is in our hands is the conduct of our law enforcement and police,” Adler said. “If there are people in the community not treated well, I want those people to come to me so I can do something about it.”

At Monday’s Public Safety Committee, Police Chief of Staff Brian Manley said Austin is not a sanctuary city but highlighted that his officers are focused on crime fighting rather than asking people about immigration status.

In a letter, the group acknowledged Adler’s support to the immigrant community but highlighted the lack of action from city officials to stop deportation.

“We cannot accept any more delays because inaction on deportations locally means Austin families will continue to be separated,” the letter states.