On Nov 13, 2010, Mayor Curtatone proclaimed “that the City of Somerville police will not require residents to show proof of citizenship or immigration papers during routine police business, nor will Somerville police assume the role of federal authorities in terms of immigration enforcement… This administration will urge state officials not to automatically process fingerprints taken by local police through federal immigration databases,” because “such a program would undermine the ability of local police to build trust with the city’s immigrant population and effectively protect the neighborhoods where those immigrants live.” [quotes sourced from The Somerville News and The Somerville Journal]
In contrast to his rhetoric, Curtatone’s administration adopted a policy on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Notification within the local police department on Mar 26, 2009, spelling out guidelines for when to issue ICE notifications. Given this seeming contradiction, I decided to submit a request for public records (via MuckRock) in order to investigate recent cases where the SPD notified ICE about arrestees. Fourteen cases were found, nine of which involved an ICE notification., $20 is required to obtain them in redacted form.
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My records request via MuckRock.com to the Somerville Police Dept returned nine cases between 1/14/09 and 4/15/10 in which the SPD notified ICE about and then detained arrestees. A brief summary of each case appears below.
These cases represent clear evidence that the SPD has been engaging in immigration enforcement under Mayor Curtatone’s administration for a significant period of time in recent history, in contrast to his Nov 13th proclamation cited above, even predating the 3/26/09 memorandum. While these cases support the mayor’s claim that officers do not request citizenship or immigration papers of their arrestees, they also show that doing so is entirely unnecessary because the routine FBI fingerprint scan returns any immigration issues instantly. Although it is possible that the mayor’s proclamation represents a new shift in policy, one must wonder why he has allowed these ICE notifications to occur if he feels so strongly that they make our community less safe? I will try to find out.
Five of the six cases following the 3/26/09 memo appear to comply with its guidelines. However, the arrest of DaSilva on 12/3/09 for receiving stolen property does not match one of the arrest types that would trigger an ICE notification. Those arrest types include: murder, sexual offenses, narcotics trafficking, or serious injury. I will try to discover the reason for this apparent bending of the rules.
Here is a brief summary of the nine cases involving an ICE notification: (note that the cases do not indicate what happened to the arrestees after they were detained)
- 4/15/2010 – HEROIN,MORPHINE,OPIUM, TRAFFICKING IN
- Sting op resulted in the arrests of Baez and Crespo-Gonzalez for selling drugs. Crespo-Gonzalez may have impersonated someone with a similar identity in a federal penitentiary.
- Citizenship status issues prompted SPD to notify ICE about both. Subsequently, a detainer negated bail release.
- 2/27/2010 – CONSPIRACY TO VIOLATE DRUG LAW
- Drug busts at the Clarendon Hill Towers result in the arrests of 6 people.
- “Due to an immigration issue regarding defendant Adel Al Taban the Department of Homeland Security Federal Immigration Customs Enforcement was notified and a detainer subsequently lodged negating any potential bail and release of him.”
- 12/3/2009 – RECEIVE STOLEN PROPERTY OVER 250 (Larceny)
- Two crack cocaine addicts including DaSilva, were being investigated for thefts at homes in greater Somerville area. DaSilva was arrested at a pawn shop in Chelsea and cooperatively admitted to the thefts with his associate.
- The officer “seized a fraudulent Brazilian passport with a fraudulent name “Valdir DaSilva” as evidence. A request for an I.C.E detainer has been submitted.”
- 9/18/2009 – COCAINE, TRAFFICKING IN
- Based on confidential sources, SPD arrested two defendants following a likely drug deal. Both were in possession of controlled substances and money.
- “It was further determined via a self admission of defendant Ruano that he was a citizen of Columbia and he illegally entered the United States. The Federal Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement was notified and in turn a detainer was lodged negating the defendants bail eligibility.”
- 8/21/2009 – PROSTITUTION
- A prostitution sting started with a Craigslist ad and resulted in the arrest of a prostitute who, in the absence of a lawyer, admitted to her illegal immigration from Mexico 2 years prior.
- ” A routine inquiry made with the Federal Bureau of Investigation finger print data base also confirmed the defendant’s illegal immigration status. The Federal Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement was notified and in response an immigration detainer was lodged negating the bail / release of the defendant.”
- 7/8/2009 – PROSTITUTION + DRUG POSSESSION
- A Drug Control / Vice unit prostitution sting started with 2 Craigslist ads and resulted in the arrests of 2 prostitutes and 1 client and drugs from all parties. One prostitute misrepresented his identity. ICE detainers were made against both prostitutes.
- “Due to a concern regarding the defendant’s residency status the Federal Department of Immigration Customs Enforcement was notified. In response to this notification detainers were lodged against both defendants affecting their bail eligibility status.”
- 2/25/2009 – ASSAULT WITH DANGEROUS WEAPON
- Suspect was arrested when he and a friend were accused by victim of chasing him with a knife, although no knife was found. Involved youths live at Mystic Housing Project.
- “Officer DeOliveira contacted I.C.E. and a detainer was issued for Amaya. This incident seems to be retaliation for an alleged incident from the previous day and gang related.”
- 1/21/2009 – HEROIN,MORPHINE,OPIUM, TRAFFICKING IN
- An informant alerted police to a drug dealer. Suspect was apprehended following a foot chase and physical struggle.
- “Due to some discrepancies concerning the defendant’s identity officials of the Federal Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement were notified. In turn an immigration detainer was lodged preventing the bail eligibility of the defendant.”
- 1/14/2009 – COCAINE, TRAFFICKING IN
- An informant alerted police to a drug delivery. Suspect was stopped in his car and drugs were found inside. The name he gave was different than what came up in the FBI file.
- FBI fingerprint scan returned immigration status issues prompting SPD to inform ICE, a detainer negated bail release.
Thanks to all who donated to help fund this story on Spot.Us! And special thanks to Deputy Chief Paul Upton for his courteous and expeditious processing of my request including some redactions, especially during this past week which was quite busy for the department.
I will be soliciting the views of Mayor Curtatone, SPD Chief Cabral, and the directors of some community groups about these cases. Stay tuned for more.