Las Cruces Police Department retains focus on local laws

Las Cruces Police DepartmentThe Las Cruces Police Department issued a statement that its focus is local law enforcement, not the enforcement of federal immigration laws. The statement follows President Donald Trump’s executive actions on immigration that include constructing the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico and stripping sanctuary cities of federal grant funding.

“Our primary purpose is protecting the residents of Las Cruces by enforcing local laws,” said Police Chief Jaime Montoya. “If an undocumented foreign national is arrested and jailed in Las Cruces, LCPD will notify the appropriate federal agency, but our officers don’t seek out people here in violation of federal immigration laws.”

The LCPD has procedures for the treatment of undocumented foreign nationals encountered by employees of the department: “The enforcement of federal immigration laws and the arrest of undocumented foreign nationals reside exclusively with the federal government.”

LCPD employees are not authorized to detain or arrest any person solely on the basis of their nationality or ethnicity. Other sections of the LCPD general orders regarding undocumented foreign nationals include:

• Commissioned employees shall not inquire about or seek proof of a person’s immigration status unless the person is in custody or is a suspect in an investigation for a non-immigration criminal violation.

• Commissioned employees may call federal immigration officials to the scene of a detention or investigation when the immigration status of an individual is discovered through the self-disclosure of the person stopped.

• If the department receives a call for service regarding possible federal immigration law violations, the caller shall be referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for further follow up.

• Commissioned employees may inform federal immigration officials of the whereabouts of suspected undocumented foreign nationals when the suspect is:
1) Arrested for a non-immigration criminal violation.
2) A previously deported felon.
3) Reasonably believed to be participating in criminal street gang activity.

In further response to President Trump’s action on immigration, Chief Montoya stated, “I do believe that the relationship between our department and immigrant communities will suffer. We have worked hard on building our community relationships and trust throughout our community as a whole. If we start asking for immigration status, and calling U.S. Border Patrol or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, our immigrant community will stop calling LCPD for fear of deportation. Nobody should be victimized and hesitate calling us. The public’s safety is our concern, not immigration status.”