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Police: Officer justified in calling ICE after former Marine veteran's arrest

By JOHN TUNISON | The Grand Rapids Press | Published: February 22, 2019

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (Tribune Content Agency) — Police say a Grand Rapids officer acted properly when he contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement in November following a former Marine’s arrest, a move that ultimately led to a three-day stay in an ICE detainment center.

Grand Rapids Interim Police Chief David Kiddle issued a statement Friday, Feb. 22 following an internal affairs review of the case surrounding Jilmar Ramos-Gomez.

Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center asked for the review following Ramos-Gomez’s arrest Nov. 21 and subsequent detainment by ICE authorities Dec. 14.

Ramos-Gomez, a U.S. citizen born in Grand Rapids, was released when an immigration-law attorney provided ICE with documents showing his citizenship.

ACLU lawyers wanted to know why Grand Rapids police contacted ICE in the first place and noted that Ramos-Gomez had several documents on him when arrested: Michigan driver’s license, military identification and his U.S. passport.

Kiddle, in the statement, noted that Ramos-Gomez set a fire at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital and accessed the helipad before being arrested, an incident that “met the criteria of a potential act of terrorism.”

He cited the following factors to back the officer’s decision:

· Grand Rapids Police Department policy requires employees to report any suspected criminal activity, including those pertinent to the Department of Homeland Security – of which ICE is a part

· ICE has resources for tracking the travel of citizens and non-citizens to countries associated with terrorist activities

· The national Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) initiative – a post 9/11 joint effort – encourages information sharing between local law enforcement agencies, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

Ramos-Gomez was in the Kent County Jail from Nov. 21 until he entered a trespassing plea on Dec. 14. He was set to be released that day, but instead was picked up by ICE officers and taken to a detention center. ICE authorities later said he claimed to be a foreign national during a jail interview.

Ramos-Gomez’s relatives said he has mental health issues from post-traumatic stress disorder.

ACLU leaders, in a response to Kiddle’s statement, said they were disappointed in the Grand Rapids police position. They issued the following statement:

“Together with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, we are extremely disappointed that the Grand Rapids Police Department has failed to hold itself or the officer involved accountable for a clear case of racial profiling. The GRPD had no reason to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement on a United States citizen, especially when he was arrested with his U.S. passport on him. The officer’s actions highlight why it is inappropriate for local law enforcement to collaborate with ICE. We call on the GRPD to ensure greater oversight of any contacts with ICE in order to restore community trust."

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©2019 The Grand Rapids Press, Mich.
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