ACLU Names Sweetwater Sheriffs in Civil Rights Violation List, Sheriff’s Office Responds
In a press release put out by the American Civil Liberties Union, which highlights a report on racism, abuse, and violence of law enforcement agencies across the country, the Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office was part of that report.
The report in question, titled License to Abuse, looked at 142 state and local law enforcement agencies from 24 different states that participated in a program from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program titled 287(g).
Of those agencies, it lists the Sweetwater Sheriff's Office, as not in the top 54 of most egregious violators, but still having violated several areas including civil rights violations and racial profiling, anti-immigrant statements, and conditions advocating inhumane federal policies.
It is unclear from the report what exactly the Sheriff's Office did to violate people's civil rights in those areas.
While the Sweetwater Sheriff's Office violated those several categories according to the report, most of the 142 offices they looked at violated those categories, along with having inhumane jail conditions, which the Sheriff's Office wasn't listed as having violated.
According to the report, 59% have records of anti-immigrant or xenophobic rhetoric, 55% have made statements advocating for inhumane immigration and border enforcement policies. 65% have records of a pattern of racial profiling and other civil rights violations, and 77% are running detention facilities with serious and extensive records of inhumane conditions.
Rebuking the report, the Sweetwater Sheriff's Office put out a press release of their own, decrying what the Wyoming ACLU's communications director Janna Farley said in their release.
Jason Mower, public relations officer with the Sheriff's Office, said in the Sheriff's Office release:
"Ms. Farley's claim in her press release yesterday is patently false. It's defamatory, and it's a gross misrepresentation of the actual findings in the report," Mower said. "Had she bothered to actually read the report for herself, she would see only that we are listed as a participant in the 287(g) program, which is not a secret to anyone. We're also listed as such on ICE's website. We are not, however, named in the report on their list of the 'most egregious' agencies in terms of alleged violations of undocumented immigrants' civil rights while temporarily housed at our detention center."
Sheriff John Grossnickle said in the release:
"We've participated with this program on a limited basis for over 12 years now. It saves taxpayers' money," Grossnickle said. "The extent of our involvement is to temporarily house undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of serious, felony-level crimes while they await transport to immigration centers in Utah and Colorado. I'm not aware of a single case during our time with the program involving allegations a civil rights violations by an undocumented immigrant temporarily being held at our facility while awaiting deportation from the United States in accordance with law. My record as an elected official on protecting people's constitutional and private property rights is clear and indisputable, which coincidentally, is also consistent with the ACLU of Wyoming's purported purpose as a 'non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights' who 'believes in the freedom of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights of due process, equal protection and privacy [as] 'fundamental rights to a free people.'"
Neither the Wyoming ACLU nor the Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office responded to a request for comment.