Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Rules Adopted on Immigrant Status Inquiries
By Debra Dominguez-Lund
Journal Staff Writer
Albuquerque police are not to ask about a person's immigration status nor are they to enforce federal civil immigration laws particularly on school grounds, according to law officials.
That does not mean that police officers, however, can't arrest an immigrant or inquire about a person's status in a criminal investigation, Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said.
"Any officer investigating criminal activity is allowed to inquire about immigration status and take any action necessary," said Schultz, who added there is already much confusion about the procedures. False information is circulating that criminals will not be asked their immigration status, he said.
"On the other hand, we want the immigrant community to know that should they be a victim or witness to a crime, their immigration status will not be held against them. We want their cooperation so we can hold all criminals accountable."
The city of Albuquerque and the police department agreed to new procedures, which were announced at a Tuesday news conference. They reinforce the city's existing policy against local enforcement of federal immigration laws.
The agreement is part of a settlement from a May 2005 lawsuit that alleged APD and Albuquerque Public Schools violated the civil rights of three high school students by seizing and detaining them at Del Norte High School until immigration officials could question them.
The lawsuit was filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.