ACLU speaks out on President Obama's Immigration Announcements

November 21, 2014

Read the ACLU of Maryland report, Restoring Trust: How Immigration Detainers in Maryland Undermine Public Safety Through Unnecessary Enforcement.


Contact: Meredith Curtis, ACLU, 443-310-9946,


BALTIMORE, MD - On Thursday, President Barack Obama announced a package of executive actions that could provide a reprieve from deportation for more than four million immigrants and that promise to significantly reform a broken immigration enforcement system.


The following comments may be attributed to Sirine Shebaya, attorney directing the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland's immigrants' rights advocacy:


"The ACLU applauds President Obama's decision to allow over four million aspiring citizens to apply for protection from immediate deportation. We are encouraged by the much-needed changes to a flawed and broken immigration enforcement program. However, we remain concerned about how the new Prioritized Enforcement Program will be implemented.


Secure Communities has caused widespread civil rights violations, wasted taxpayer dollars, and undermined people's trust in local law enforcement. Changes that scale down the operation of this program are a welcome step in the right direction. But while the proposed changes appear to discontinue detention requests and to eliminate immigration-only offenses from the purview of the program, it remains unclear whether Secretary Johnson's memo will be implemented in a manner that constitutes substantial change, or more of the same under a different name. We are concerned that the memo allows continued use of detainers in unspecified "special circumstances" and in ways that do not comport with the Fourth Amendment requirement of a judicial determination of probable cause. If the new policy leaves room for ICE officers to issue notification requests against any but those ICE has reason to believe fall within the top priority categories, of if it permits ICE entanglement with local law enforcement officials in any cases beyond these topmost priorities, the new program will have failed to accomplish its stated goals.


As a result of advocacy by the ACLU and its partners, most immigrants in Maryland now live in counties that refuse to detain individuals for ICE without a judicial warrant. These local policies remain important and necessary, and we will continue to support and monitor their implementation.

As we celebrate with the families that have gained a temporary reprieve, we also resolve to continue the fight for over six million aspiring citizens who still live in fear and who will not be protected by the President's action. Here in Maryland, we will continue to advocate for welcoming, just and humane policies for all the residents of our state."