FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2015
LINCOLN – The ACLU of Nebraska recently received complaints from attorneys in the Omaha area who indicated their clients were fearful of keeping probation appointments with state officials due to instances of potential intimidation, unlawful cooperation, and possible racial profiling by immigration officials stationed at the probation offices and detaining individuals with no warrant or probable cause. For example, a Latino individual would come in to meet with their probation officer and then be subjected to questioning by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. The ACLU of Nebraska researched the issues, identified legal concerns, and wrote a warning letter to state officials on Jan. 16, 2015. On Jan. 23, 2015, the Chief Probation Officer for the Omaha-area State Probation Office informed the ACLU of Nebraska that it will now require Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to have a warrant in order to interact with those in the probation office. (Include copies of correspondence as attachment or otherwise?)
"I am grateful to the ACLU of Nebraska for their leadership on this important issue,” said Omaha Attorney, Ross Pesek. “Many of my clients were concerned about this situation. This practice prompted grave concerns regarding the appropriate use of public safety resources and hindered the ability of individuals to successfully complete the terms of their probation for low level offenses."
This development builds upon other recent work from the ACLU of Nebraska related to the rights of new immigrants. In the fall of 2014 communications from the ACLU of Nebraska were instrumental in persuading Douglas, Sarpy, Hall and Lancaster Counties to stop honoring requests from ICE to hold individuals without specific evidence that a person has committed a crime.
"Being Latino is not a crime. Allegations of racial profiling undermine the integrity of our legal system. We are grateful state officials acted promptly and exhibited leadership when they became aware of this legally suspect situation. State probation offices should not be a venue for warrantless questioning of Latinos by ICE officials. The end of this practice will ensure trust and fairness are restored to our system," said Danielle Conrad Executive Director ACLU of Nebraska.