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Kent County Administrative Staff and Commissioners establish Immigration Focus Group

December 6, 2018

During the November 29th Kent County Board of Commissioners meeting, it was announced near the end that the County administration and the Commissioners have now formed a Immigration Focus Group

Kent County Commissioner Bolter made the announcement, when she said:

I also wanted to make mention that if anyone happened to miss our Executive Team meeting this morning, staff is focusing on an immigration focus group that they have started…….and staff has met with the Sheriff and a few others, but they are putting together an action plan and planning to meet with community leaders and any other commissioners who want to be involved…..and that should be kicking off in January.

(You can watch the video from the 11/29/2018 meeting, with the comments beginning at 55:20 in the video.)

This decision by Kent County is the result of members of the immigrant community and allies pressuring them to end the Sheriff Department’s contract it has with ICE, a contract that has been in place since 2012 and is set to be renewed in September of 2019

I want to make several points in response to this announcement.

First, Commissioner Bolter states that this is an immigration focus group, which is different than what we had been hearing for months. We were told that the County would establish a Task Force.

Second, when they say they are planning to meet with community leaders, what exactly does that mean? There are no defined community leaders in the immigrant community. What this usually means is people who have name recognition or those who work in the non-profit sector. However, community leaders can mean all kinds of things to all kinds of people, especially to those most affected by the contract that Kent County has with ICE. Who do you think that those most impacted by the ICE contract view are the “community leaders?”

Lastly, while some might see the immigration focus group as a positive, those who have been confronting the County to End the Contract with ICE view this announcement with skepticism and frustration. People are skeptical that it will not put the focus on the ICE Contract and they are frustrated that this announcement seems to minimize the actual harm that has been done, and is being done to the immigrant community by ICE in Kent County, including the Sheriff Department’s contract.

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