Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Kentucky parents forced to risk deportation when calling police

When parents of a 16-year old girl thought she was kidnapped, they had to worry about the risk they would be deported if they called the police for help. According to the Kentucky Courier-Journal, Tiburcio Quijano and his wife called the police, realizing it could lead to their deporation because they have been in the United States for four years without permission. The daughter called the FBI to report she willingly left Kentucky and was not kidnapped, a claim the police are apparently investigating.

Although an ICE agent visited the parents, they seemed to tell the parents they were interested in helping find their daughter, not in deporting the parents. An ICE spokesperson did not speak specifically about the case but said generally that if a family in that situation has no criminal record, it likely will not be targeted by immigration officials. But the spokesperson said he couldn't guarantee that.

There is little reason why ICE should deport someone for calling the police about an apparent crime and emergency. The result might be that immigrants will be afraid to report dangerous circumstances to the police, which will put all of us in greater danger.

4/26/05 addition: the police in Carlsbad, North Carolina understand the problem with calling immigration authorities. According to an article in the North Carolina Times:

"One would hope that various law enforcement agencies here would realize how counterproductive that (immigration enforcement) would be," said Attorney Claudia Smith of the California Rural Legal Assistance Agency in Oceanside. "People just don't come forward as either witnesses or victims." That is one of the reasons that Oceanside police don't get involved in immigration issues, said Capt. David Heering of the Oceanside Police Department. Heering said police don't want people to be afraid they might be deported when they need help, because officers want to arrest and prosecute criminals. Manpower also plays into local decisions, officers said. Carlsbad officers decide on a case-by-case basis whether to call the Border Patrol, and it depends on how serious the crime or the offender is, said Capt. Mike Shipley of the Carlsbad Police Department. "I'm not going to tie up an officer for three hours because a guy working in a field doesn't have (immigration) papers," Shipley said. Lt. David Mankin, spokesman for the Escondido Police Department, said Escondido police will notify the Border Patrol if a suspect has an immigration hold. If the suspect doesn't have such a hold, then they're processed like everyone else, he said. If suspects are deported, then they can't be prosecuted, Mankin pointed out.


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