Monday, September 21, 2009

Houston Police Chief Hurtt Sued over Illegal Alien Policy

Sep. 21, 2009.
Houston police officer brings PUBLIC POLICY LAWSUIT against City of Houston & Chief of Police complaining about being impeded in communicating with ICE regarding illegal aliens. See Original Petition in Joselyn M. Johnson v. Harold Hurtt, in his official capacity as Chief of Police of the Houston Police Department et al, Cause No. 2009-60471, assigned to the 151st District Court, Judge Mike Engelhart presiding.

Excerpt of Johnson's allegations [from her complaint against the Chief]:

Plaintiff, a Sergeant in the Houston Police Department, challenges current policies, practices, and procedures of the Houston Police Department that substantially restrict, if not prohibit, Plaintiff from communicating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") about illegal aliens who are criminally present in the United States.

Plaintiff does not seek to detain or arrest persons in order to inquire about their immigration status. Rather, Plaintiffs seeks to· use her professional judgment to determine when it is appropriate to contact ICE to inquire or provide information about a person's immigration status if, in the course of carrying out her duties and responsibilities as a law enforcement officer, she has reason to believe a crime may have been committed. The Houston Police Department's current policies, practices, and procedures largely prohibit such communications and harm Plaintiff's ability to carry out her duties and responsibilities as a law enforcement officer. They also deprive her of her right to freedom of expression under the U.S. and Texas constitutions and federal law.

This lawsuit also seeks to compel the Defendants to comply with federal laws, rules, and regulations, so that Officer Johnson and others may communicate with ICE, rather than allow the Defendants to turn a blind eye to its legal and lawful obligations by prohibiting such communication with the expectations that one day the United States Congress will modify existing U.S. immigration laws to conform with Defendants current practices, policies, and procedures. It is clear such modifications, if any, will not occur in the near future. Therefore, the Defendants' practices, policies, and procedures must cease and desist.

RELATED TERMS: public employment, first amendment rights of public employees, officers, public policy change through litigation, police and policing, state vs. federal responsibility in immigration control and enforcement, undocumented aliens, legal and illegal aliens, police discipline, chain of command, insubordination, suing the boss, whistle-blowing, advocacy of public policy, use of lawsuits to affect public policy.

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