With the tremendous amount of information flying about involving undocumented people I felt it might be nice to educate others about our perspective; time to clear up some confusion.
How do we at a local agency deal with illegal immigrants? Confusing as it may seem local agencies don’t have jurisdiction to put people in jail for being here illegally. I know that it is against the law. I know that we enforce the law and put people in jail for committing illegal acts. What we will do is put people in jail who break the laws that we are able to enforce and have the jurisdiction to enforce.
The federal government is in charge of and is responsible for sorting out people who are within our borders illegally. So what do we do in circumstances such as these? If we are made aware of or discover that a suspect we have arrested is in fact in our country illegally we would contact the appropriate authority. That does not mean that we are actively seeking to locate people to be deported from the United States. This has nothing to do with our personal feelings. It is a simple fact of law. We don’t write or pass laws and don’t get to have an opinion about them. Our edict is to enforce them fairly and impartially.
We are in no way shirking our responsibility. We will do exactly what we should and can to make sure that the victims of crimes in our jurisdiction are treated fairly regardless of their status. In the same course we will also do all that we can to ensure the rights of people who have broken the law are protected regardless of their status. Every local and state agency involved in law enforcement has the same job. Protect the innocent and arrest those who have broken the law. This does not change based upon what nationality a person has or what their immigration status is at the time of the incident.
This is in no way a political stance on the issue. The police must not be political. The biggest fear I have as a chief is that a victim (a U.S. Citizen or a Foreign National) will not come to us because they are afraid. There is a legal process that should be adhered to in regard to this and it will be done the correct way every time.
In conclusion I can only speak for what we do. We are fair, we are just and we will treat people the way I want to be treated if I were the person wearing handcuffs.
– Chief Daniel Watson