Florida Keys Free PressJune 14, 2017

As Monroe County residents and constituents, we demand a clear policy from our Monroe County Sheriff’s Office regarding questioning residents and visitors about their immigration status, and sharing this information with federal immigration officials.

The recent body cam footage of an officer questioning the immigration status of multiple Florida Keys residents is very concerning. As there is no clear policy or tracking mechanism for these situations, there is no accountability, and this can easily invite discrimination by even the most well-intentioned officers, as well as open Monroe County up to unnecessary liability.

Our residents have the right to know what to expect when encountering local law enforcement. The Florida Sheriffs Association has stated that Florida sheriff’s departments do not have the jurisdiction to investigate immigration cases, yet the actions and speech on the body cam footage clearly show that this department is doing just that. If our Monroe County deputies are coordinating with ICE or any other immigration officials, we would like to see written policy and transparency as it relates to our citizens and community members. By not having a clear policy and leaving it up to the discretion of each officer, Sheriff Rick Ramsay is putting our county in dangerous territory, allowing his officers to pursue lines of questioning that are outside of their job training and qualifications.

As taxpayers, we are concerned with the possibility of liability as it relates to the breach of civil liberties. As constituents, we are deeply concerned with the well-being of all of our community members that could be affected by this laissez-faire approach to policy.

Natalia Duke, Key West