Open Letter to Sheriff Tompkins: #ICEOutOfSuffolkCounty

Our September 2018 issue included a letter from Cosecha Boston, which fights for undocumented immigrants’ rights, urging Northeastern to cut ties with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).

Now, they ask the same of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office.

Dear Sheriff Steven Tompkins,

We are Bostonians from all walks of life, who are directly or indirectly impacted by immigration policies that separate and hurt families. We are Cosecha/Harvest, a nonviolent movement working to win permanent protection, dignity & respect for all undocumented people in this country.

We write this letter to you to insist that the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office terminates all relationships with Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) and release all detainees held under the jail contract, ensuring that they get safely back to their families and communities. We urge you to make sure they are not transferred out of the region or picked up again by ICE. Maintaining a sheriff’s contract with ICE that unjustly imprisons members of our community makes Suffolk County complicit in human rights violations.

We know — even though there is a lack of transparency regarding the actual numbers — that the South  Bay House of Correction gains at least $200 to $250 a day per detainee and that approximately 30 percent of its population are undocumented detainees. Allowing Suffolk County to profit from ICE creates perverse motivation that contributes to the systemic issues of mass incarceration and mass deportation facing migrant and communities of color — policies which we understand you, as sheriff, particularly oppose.

Our families belong in communities, not prisons. Don’t you agree? We would like to work together to accomplish the following:

  • Cancel the jail contract
  • Ensure that all detainees are released, not transferred out of the region
  • Put pressure on ICE  to speed up their cases and release detainees on bond or another alternative to detention. ICE  has the ability to do this and your sheriff’s office has the responsibility to ensure that all detainees now in your custody are promptly released so they can return to their friends and families
  • Set up a community fund for bond payments and family transportation
  • Provide complete transparency to the detainees, their families, and friends throughout the process but no sharing timing, location or any other information with ICE

If you refuse to meet the community’s demands, we will have no option but to step up our resistance to protect our families, our people.

All across the country, municipalities, sheriffs, institutions, organizations, and businesses are saying no to ICE, in part, because of the pressure they are receiving from the peaceful resistance actions of the undocumented community and its allies. Our movement is building and people are awakening to say they won’t be party to these crimes.

We are wondering Sheriff Tompkins, what will you do? Will you join us in this historic moment?

ICE has no place in Suffolk County and we won’t be complicit by standing silently before human exploitation, family separations, indiscriminate and unjust deportations, and the suffering of our immigrant community.  



The Cosecha MA Family



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