Police Chief Craig Enevoldsen discussed the police department’s policy regarding immigration violations at a Mar. 6 work session. Michele Garnett McKenzie, director of advocacy at The Advocates for Human Rights, commented on the policy for the council.
After the meeting, Enevoldsen, McKenzie and Mayor Jeff Lunde held an open panel for residents who had questions about the policy. Enevoldsen said he created the policy to direct his officers actions and to create a mechanism by which he could hold them accountable.
The Brooklyn Park Police Department will not enforce violations of federal civil law, Enevoldsen said.
“We do not ask, detain, or search anyone based solely on their immigration status,” he said. “There’s three reasons for that: one is … immigration laws are federal laws, meaning the only individuals that can make an arrest, refer it to a judge would be a federal law enforcement professional,” he said. “Second, we don’t care. I don’t care.
“Third … I don’t want members of our community to either witness a crime or be a victim of a crime and be reluctant to call us because they think we’re going to show up at their house and start asking them about their immigration status,” he added. “It’s not my job. I don’t care for it to be my job, and quite honestly we don’t have the resources to get involved in that kind of work.”
Enevoldsen said the department will communicate with federal entities to help investigate federal criminal law, in cases of human trafficking or terrorism, for instance.
The department will not honor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, Enevoldsen said. That is, if the Brooklyn Park Police has detained someone but not charged them and ICE requests the police to continue detaining them for questioning, the department will not honor that request.
The only time when the department would detain someone for a federal entity is if there is a federal court order or warrant for their arrest.
People arrested for felonies, gross misdemeanor or certain targeted misdemeanors have their fingerprints recorded and sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Enevoldsen said. If the bureau so chooses, it could contact ICE with information regarding an undocumented immigrant as a result of such an arrest, he said.
Local policies are important to consider, particularly in the context of Department of Homeland Security trying to engage local law enforcement as a force multiplier, McKenzie said.
“That has been a strategy for decades from the federal government, since 1996,” she said.
That is, local or state law enforcement can enter into an agreement with ICE under the Delegation of Immigration Authority Section 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows the performance of immigration officer functions by state or local officers.
Currently, there are no law enforcement entities in the state that have agreements with ICE under Section 287(g). Enevoldsen said he would not be willing to enter Brooklyn Park’s police force into an agreement with ICE under Section 287(g). He said officers that partner with ICE under the program are, in his opinion, not adequately trained. Moreover, they damage their relationship with the community, and crime rates tend to rise as a result, he said.
Mayor Jeff Lunde also said he would not want the police department to deputize under Section 287(g).
McKenzie said Brooklyn Park and other communities in Minnesota have been working to balance the needs for community policing that help to keep residents safe, while at the same time honoring federal law, which does not allow police departments to ban communication with ICE.
That is, 8 US Code § 1373 does not allow any government entity to ban communication between itself and federal immigration officials. However, it does not mandate that a department must communicate with ICE or other immigration agencies.
If a police department violated 8 US Code § 1373, it would likely lose certain federal funding, McKenzie said. However, under current federal law, violation of the code would not result in the loss of all federal funding for the city, she said. Light rail transit, for instance, would not be at risk, she said.
Brooklyn Park’s police policy allows for communication with ICE. Enevoldsen said his oath to abide by federal laws requires that he include this in the policy. An officer could not make their own decision to contact ICE, and would need to report to a supervisor, he said.
There is room to revise the city’s policy, McKenzie said.
“Putting strong provisions in place around oversight, making sure that there is an articulation of the city’s actual policies and practices rather than just what’s on paper would be wise,” she said.
Part of the fear regarding immigration enforcement relates to the lack of oversight in the process when compared to other aspects of law enforcement, McKenzie said.
“Detention is used strategically by federal immigration authorities to get people to give up,” she said. “Eighty-five percent of the 2 million people who were deported in the last eight years never saw a judge.”
When determining reasonable suspicion that a criminal immigration violation has occurred, an officer may consider a lack of English proficiency, but not as a sole factor, according to the policy. Councilmember Susan Pha said she wanted this revised to not allow for a lack of English proficiency to be considered.
Enevoldsen said he can revise the policy, but such a move will not effect federal code or ICE’s actions.
Contact Kevin Miller at [email protected]