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Thread: N.M. - Immigrant group pressures sheriff to change policy

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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    N.M. - Immigrant group pressures sheriff to change policy

    By Diana Alba Soular
    Posted: 02/26/2012 06:29:47 PM MST

    LAS CRUCES — An immigrant-friendly task force is pressuring the Doņa Ana County Sheriff's Department to ban asking for immigration status during traffic stops — a plea the group is taking to the county commission on Tuesday.

    But County Sheriff Todd Garrison said the department's policy on traffic stops is fine now.

    The group, which calls itself the Taskforce for Immigrant Advocacy and Services in Southern New Mexico, claimed it has fielded "numerous complaints" from residents in Hatch, Chaparral, Anthony and Las Cruces that county deputies "often ask individuals about their immigration status during the course of a routine encounter or traffic stop," the group said last week in a news release.

    The practice causes migrants not to trust local law enforcement, even when they're victims of crime or witnesses to a crime, the task force contended.

    "We believe that it is important for public safety that all families living in Doņa Ana County are unafraid to call the police when they have been victims or witnesses of a crime," said Vicki Gaubeca, member of the executive committee for TIAS-NM and director of the ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights, in a news release. "The enforcement of federal, civil immigration laws should be the sole responsibility of federal law enforcement agencies."

    Because of that concern, the task force is pushing for Doņa Ana County to revise its policies on traffic stops —akin to one adopted three years ago by the Otero County Sheriff's Department following a lawsuit over the matter.

    The task force said it will ask the five-member county commission Tuesday to state its case, according to a news release. It also will present a petition backing the change.

    Garrison said Friday the department doesn't ask people their immigration status during traffic stops.

    "That's not something we do," he said. "We do ask people to clarify who they are when we can't find records of who they are."

    Garrison explained, saying that officers are tasked with finding out a person's identity during a traffic stop, and people, whether they're citizens or undocumented immigrants, often try to hide who they are for many reasons, including that they have an outstanding warrant.

    "It happens all the time, and we have no way to tell whether a person lives here local or is from Africa or China," he said.

    Continued Garrison: "If we come across someone (undocumented), that doesn't mean that we don't call Border Patrol. But we don't hold them for three or four hours. We may hold them for 10 minutes, and if somebody doesn't show up, we let them go."

    The task force said it will ask the county commission to have the county attorney review the proposed revisions to the sheriff's department policy within a month's time and hold meetings with the sheriff's department to "hear from the public about community protection issues."

    Garrison said the department's policy doesn't need revision.

    "We've been pretty consistent in what we've done the last 25 to 30 years, and we don't see a reason to," he said.

    The county commission and county sheriff are independently elected.

    Asked whether the county commissioners could go so far as to force Garrison to change his traffic stop policy, Garrison said they could not.

    "We often work together on things, but they don't have the authority to tell the sheriff to change it," he said.

    Immigrant group pressures sheriff to change policy - Las Cruces Sun-News
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  2. #2
    Senior Member ReggieMay's Avatar
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    Well then, if they were here legally and obeying our traffic laws, there would be nothing to worry about.
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    "A Nation of sheep will beget a government of Wolves" -Edward R. Murrow

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  3. #3
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    The practice causes migrants not to trust local law enforcement
    Most lawbreakers are wary of law enforcement. These people are just a group of lawbreakers that want a free pass.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Ratbstard's Avatar
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    It just crossed my mind how funny we think it is when a person ripped off in a drug transaction calls the cops about it.
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