The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (Metro) recently entered into an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Under the agreement, 287(g), Metro screens everyone booked into the Clark County Detention Center (CCDC) to determine their immigration status, and then can refer potential violators of federal administrative or criminal immigration regulations and laws to ICE.
Facts about 287(g):
- Screening under 287(g) is limited to persons booked into CCDC.
- Metro officers cannot ask about immigration status until after a person is arrested and booked into the Detention Center. Metro officers patrolling the streets cannot stop a person to ask about immigration status.
- While the perception is otherwise, Metro officers are not allowed to ask witnesses or victims of crimes about their immigration status.
- It is important to note that all immigrants who are booked into the Clark County Detention Facility will be questioned about their status regardless of what type of crime they are arrested for, and deportation is possible regardless of whether they are later found guilty or innocent of the crime.
- If you have any questions about 287(g), your rights to refuse questioning by law enforcement, or your immigration status, please contact an attorney.
The ACLU of Nevada has serious concerns about 287(g):
1. Enforcement of immigration laws is the responsibility of the federal government. Local law enforcement should not take on the task of enforcing federal laws. Instead, police departments should focus on their job: maintaining the safety of the entire community. Not only will 287(g) take up officers’ time, but 287(g) will also make it harder for Metro to do its job because it will hinder Metro’s ability to work with the community and talk to witnesses and victims of crime.
2. The community will not be safer if Metro is hamstrung by 287(g). Due to 287(g) and overlapping roles between Metro and ICE, the immigrant community will associate Metro with ICE and 287(g). For example, not knowing the technicalities of the scope of 287(g), immigrants may hesitate to reach out for help or report crimes out of fear that their immigration status will be questioned. Family members may be reluctant to report domestic abuse out of fear that the abusive relative will be deported. To give another example, an assault victim who successfully defends himself may not call police out of fear that he will also be arrested.
3. Due to the chilling effect of 287(g), the immigrant community will be more vulnerable to abuse. A member of the public recently commented that they were glad that they could now beat up an immigrant without recourse – presumably because the immigrant would not call the police for fear of being arrested for assault and battery. Each and every person living in Las Vegas, regardless of immigration status, should feel confident that Metro is there to protect them, not deport them. 287(g) should not serve as a permission slip to victimize immigrants.
4. 287(g) may lead to mistakes and racial profiling. Under a similar 287(g) program, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deported a mentally disabled U.S. citizen named Pedro Guzman. Guzman had no identification when he was arrested and could not provide information about his status to law enforcement. He wandered homeless on the streets of Mexico for 3 months until his mother – who had to quit her job to look for him –finally found him near a border crossing entry point. U.S. citizen Guillermo Olivares Romero was held in a California immigration detention center for two weeks before his lawyers convinced ICE that he was not deportable. U.S. citizen Jose Ledesma was held for two months in a California immigration detention center even though he had provided copies of his birth certificate and baptismal certificate to authorities. See http://chirla.org/files/287g%20Factsheet%2011-24-08.pdf for information on the 287(g) program in Southern California.
Mistakes do occur, and while the ACLU is not questioning the motives or integrity of Metro, we are concerned that the program may lend itself to racial profiling and that individual officers may not stick to the confines of the program and improperly question community members about their immigration status.
In light of these concerns, the ACLU of Nevada has urged Metro to reevaluate its participation in the 287(g) program. Further, the ACLU is committed to working with Metro and the community to monitor the operation and effects of 287(g). If you have information about the effect of 287(g), please email the ACLU of Nevada at firstname.lastname@example.org.