Fed law, local enforcement
Donald Trump has talked about deporting more illegal immigrants, in part by changing the threshold for what gets them deported. That is, the administration is expected to change federal policy so that less serious criminal offenses could trigger deportation. Until now, it has taken major crimes to do it.
That would mean more policing, and Trump said he would revive two federal programs—Secure Communities and 287(g). After they led to increased racial profiling, Barack Obama discontinued the first and reduced the use of the second. Both would allow Trump increased use of local agencies like county sheriff and city police departments.
Reno City Councilmember Paul McKenzie, himself a former police officer, is skeptical of the idea.
“I don’t think the Trump administration can tell us what to do as far as our ordinances are concerned,” he said. “It is not our job to enforce federal laws. Those are the responsibility of federal agencies. We currently assist them to the extent that if we have a person in custody, we hold them. But it is not our officers’ jobs to go out and check for green cards.”
He said if Trump wants to get serious, the first thing he will need to do is send a check.
“There would have to be funding,” McKenzie said. “A place to incarcerate, putting officers on the street. … What we are doing now [for federal immigration], that’s the limit of our ability to do currently.”
He said the city council and city manager need to be tuned in on whether to aid other agencies, and he does not expect Reno police to act outside that.
“RPD is not going to go out on their own and make a decision to refocus its priorities,” he said.
Sparks City Councilmember Kristopher Dahir said his city is already hurting for officers. “My initial thought is that police should not be able to make that decision without the governing board,” he said. “Obviously, we have to look at the larger scope. We’re already looking now at whether we have enough cops. With what we have now, I can’t imagine where we would take away from city service to supply help” to federal functions.
Sparks Councilmember Charlene Bybee said she had not realized Trump was planning to use local police. “I would probably want to have a conversation with our city manager and [Sparks Police Chief] Brian Allen before reaching any conclusions,” she said.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police on Jan. 30 issued a statement saying that the administration needs to stick to voluntary agreements, that it “has, and will continue to strongly oppose any initiative that would mandate that state and local law enforcement agencies play a role in the enforcement of federal immigration law. The IACP believes that the issue of state, tribal or local law enforcement’s participation in immigration enforcement is an inherently local decision that must be made by law enforcement executives, working with their elected officials, community leaders, and citizens.”
Trump tends to paint broad strokes with bold rhetoric. One of his executive orders shows he has only authorized the Department of Homeland Security—which handles immigration—to enter voluntary agreements with police agencies.