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July 9, 2018

Lawmakers must stand between the federal government and Montana communities. The ACLU of Montana’s Executive Director Caitlin Borgmann demanded action today from Governor Bullock, Attorney General Fox, Senators Daines and Tester, and Representative Gianforte in response to human rights violations. Immigrants and U.S. citizens in Montana are increasingly subjected to inhumane treatment, racial profiling, and unnecessary detention and deportation proceedings.

“The Trump administration’s immigration policies have flooded into our communities,” said Borgmann. “The destruction of families, abuse of state resources to hunt undocumented immigrants, violent enforcement tactics, and racial profiling are happening with alarming frequency in Montana. Montanans elected these state and federal officials to exercise fiscal responsibility as well as ensure that all individuals are treated with fairness and dignity. Siphoning local resources to carry out the White House’s cruel agenda could not be further from Montana values.”

Borgmann’s letters detail how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) have aggressively ramped up immigration enforcement in Montana, and how state and local government are voluntarily collaborating with these agencies.  

For example, the Department of Labor and Industry has given ICE employment information on businesses that are assumed to employ people of color, such as Mexican restaurants, even though it has no legal obligation to do so. This voluntary cooperation ignores federal and state privacy provisions and uses state resources to support ICE’s human fishing expeditions.

In addition to diverting state and local resources away from Montanans and to federal agencies, state and local collaboration with ICE and CBP has compromised the dignity and safety of many Montanans, including American citizens.

“Montanans are less safe and secure because our elected officials have collectively done little more than meekly disagree with the Trump administration’s ruthless policies,” said Alex Rate, Legal Director. “Immigrants, people of color, and Indigenous people in Montana are subjected to racial profiling and abuse to satisfy nationalistic, anti-immigrant policies.”

Each administration in recent history – from Reagan to Obama – has expanded enforcement, reduced legal immigration, and diminished immigrants’ rights. “Both parties created this problem,” said SK Rossi, Director of Advocacy and Policy. “And both parties are responsible for fixing it. Montana’s elected officials must prioritize people before politics, create solutions, and act. They have a moral obligation to stand up to injustice.”

The ACLU of Montana’s letters to Governor Bullock, Attorney General Fox, Senators Tester and Daines, and Representative Gianforte demanded action on items ranging from limiting state resources used to assist in immigration enforcement, to opposing federal budget proposals that fund border agents and the wall. The letters are available below as PDFs. 

The following twelve Montana organizations have co-signed the letters: Empower MT, Forward Montana, the Montana Association of Christians, the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Montana Human Rights Network, Montana Immigrant Justice, Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance, the Montana Racial Equity Project, Montana Women Vote, Planned Parenthood of Montana, Soft Landing Missoula, and Trans Visible Montana.

The ACLU of Montana’s Caitlin Borgmann (Executive Director), SK Rossi (Advocacy and Policy Director), and Alex Rate (Legal Director) are available for interview.