Minneapolis has been a sanctuary city since at least 2003, when its city council passed a sweepingly broad ordinance forbidding police from “undertak[ing]any law enforcement action for the purpose of detecting the presence of [illegal aliens], or to verify immigration status[.]” But as always, nothing is ever enough when it comes to protecting illegal aliens, so now Mayor Jacob Frey (D) is rolling out yet another new policy—placards in every police car informing illegal aliens of their “rights,” conveniently in both English and Spanish.
Frey first announced the placards idea in his State of the City speech back on May 24. He rolled out sample versions in an October 10 press conference. It’d all be absurd to the point of laughable in its gimmickry if it didn’t create real new problems.
First, the placards are a grossly inaccurate misrepresentation of the law. The “right to remain silent,” famous from endless TV repetition of the Miranda warnings, is a restatement of the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment privilege not to have your statements compelled or used against you in criminal court. But immigration proceedings, and immigration status, are civil in nature, not criminal. No court has ever held that such a blanket privilege regarding immigration even exists. To the contrary, courts have said immigration status and birthplace, much like name, address, date of birth, etc., are the kind of routine identifying or booking information that law enforcement can always ask about regardless of Miranda warnings, because such questions do not call for an “incriminating” response. They’ve also ruled that immigration judges are allowed to draw adverse inferences from silence precisely because immigration is civil rather than criminal.
And as a practical matter, the placards amount to the city hijacking individual officers’ decisions on whether and when to Mirandize someone they have in custody. What’s worse, they also hijack other law-enforcement agencies’ chances to question suspects before they can even get to them, whether it be the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office if they’re booked into the county jail, or federal immigration officers, or whoever else. Fewer answers from fewer cooperating arrestees will only endanger the public more.
While the mayor may claim the police chief is on board with his plan, the city’s rank-and-file police officers are understandably and vocally angry. Lieutenant Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, said the placards are “all too typical of the lunatic left,” and added that “[w]ith 200 shooting victims in the city year to date, the political response is to be sure and advise people who are here ILLEGALLY of their rights, while in the back of a squad car. It’s simply insane.” With the city in thrall to the reckless sanctuary agenda, he suggests “we can possibly begin to restore the safety of our citizens with help at the state level[.]”
Mayor Frey has predictably condemned the union leader’s statements in the past as “counter to everything we stand for in Minneapolis,” but nevertheless, the help Kroll mentioned might be coming. Anti-sanctuary bills were introduced in both the Minnesota House and Senate last year, although they made no progress through the legislative process. Hopefully next year something like them will, and put dangerous nonsense like this to an end.