ACLU Files Federal Administrative Complaint Calling on U.S. Dept of Homeland Security to Investigate the Frederick County Sheriff, Charles Jenkins

Affiliate: ACLU of Maryland
July 11, 2023 1:30 pm

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Maryland
Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. – In response to Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins’ federal indictment on criminal charges, misuse of office, and poor civil rights record, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Maryland filed an administrative complaint today to request an investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) into the propriety of continuing the 287(g) agreement between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Charles “Chuck” Jenkins has misused and abused his office’s authority by stoking anti-immigrant hate. His office has a record of violating the civil rights of community members, and limiting transparency in policing policy and practices. Under the 287(g) agreement, ICE deputizes local officers to enforce federal immigration laws resulting in deportation and detention – despite the Sheriff’s Office misconduct.

Detailed in the complaint, the ACLU is seeking CRCL to investigate:

  • The sheriff’s misconduct, including his federal indictment on charges of conspiracy and making false statements, his misuse of office to stoke anti-immigrant racism, and his expressed belief in the supreme authority of sheriffs over state and federal government;
  • Racial disparities in local policing, reports of racial profiling, and other civil rights violations;
  • Inhumane conditions at the county jail; and
  • Limited transparency and accountability to the public by the Sheriff’s Office.

“Under Chuck Jenkins, the Frederick Sheriff’s Office has racial profiled and violating the rights of immigrant residents, including our courageous plaintiff Ms. Sara Medrano, and members of the RISE Coalition,” said Nick Taichi Steiner, staff attorney at the ACLU of Maryland. “Jenkins might believe he is not accountable to anyone, but the Frederick immigrant community remain steadfast in their advocacy against him. The federal government must be consistent in holding Jenkins accountable, investigate his and his office’s misconduct, and end the 287(g) agreement with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.”

Since 2008 when the partnership between ICE and Sheriff Jenkins was established, the relationship between police and Frederick County’s immigrant community has deteriorated. On several accounts, Sheriff Jenkins has dehumanized immigrants by referring to them as “inherently violent,” “illegal aliens,” and “hardcore gangbangers.” He even suggested police should “round these people up and maybe placing them in Guantanamo until we can deport ‘em” and recently spread conspiracies about immigrants as “chemical warfare against the United States” because “the entire world hates this country, everybody around the world hates America.”

Sheriff Jenkins has been sued twice for racially profiling immigrants in Frederick County. In April 2023, he was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of making false statements to defraud the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and helping a local gun owner evade federal regulations of machine guns. Jenkins has been on a leave of absence since the indictment but has appears to still be conducting official business. He was seen participating in a 287(g) steering committee meeting despite his leave as sheriff. During the meeting, his leave and many pressing questions from the audience were not addressed.

In March 2023 at a detention center in Frederick County, dozens of individuals detained were reportedly forced to endure a sewage system collapse that surrounded them in human feces for hours. For over a decade, Sheriff Jenkins and the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office have used their power to endanger the health and safety of its community members – making it inappropriate for him and his office to have further federal immigration authority in Frederick County.

“Sheriff Jenkins has caused immeasurable harm to immigrant communities in Frederick County, but his reckless, anti-immigrant statements are not unique among sheriffs in the 287(g) program,” said Naureen Shah, ACLU senior legislative counsel. “Accountability must include a thorough review of the sheriff’s practices and a reconsideration of the agreement altogether.”

The complaint is here: https://www.aclu.org/documents/aclu-complaint-to-dhs-office-for-civil-rights-and-civil-liberties-on-fredrick-county-sheriffs-office-and-287g-program

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.

Learn More About the Issues in This Press Release