Immigration Officials Ask for Police Assistance

Police will report illegal immigrants who have been convicted,
deported then return to Gilroy
By Lori Stuenkel

Gilroy – Police are joining other departments in the state in reporting to immigration officials illegal immigrants who are convicted criminals and have already been deported from the country.

The command staff of the Gilroy Police Department recently was approached by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to help agents identify convicted criminals who are in the city illegally.

“If we want to let them know, particularly on people that are criminals, they will take that information and pursue them from an immigration standpoint,” Assistant Chief Lanny Brown said.

Police will not take on the responsibility of enforcing all immigration laws, he said.

“We’re not going out and doing sweeps for illegal immigrants or anything like that, because we don’t believe that’s the right thing to do,” Brown said. “But it sure makes sense to us if people are here – committing crimes, convicted of crimes, and are here illegally – to turn them over to ICE so they can be deported.”

ICE is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, which identifies and shuts down vulnerabilities in the nation’s borders, among other responsibilities, according to the agency’s Web site.

On Wednesday, Gilroy police made their first two arrests of people with criminal pasts who are not supposed to be in the U.S. Jesus Rodriguez Gonzales and Adan Rivera were identified as deported felons, Sgt. Kurt Svardal said. Officers booked the suspects into Santa Clara County jail and handed the case over to ICE officials, he said.

GPD officials will continue a dialog with ICE to coordinate how beat officers will implement the process of how to identify criminal illegal immigrants or bring them to ICE’s attention, Brown said.

Police in Southern California are preparing to undergo the same type of training. Officers traditionally have not inquired into suspects’ immigration status. If there was a concern that was reported to immigration officials, nothing seemed to come of it, Brown said.

“Ever since I’ve been here, since ’85, it’s basically a hands-off,” Brown said. “Immigration issues aren’t something that as local law enforcement we got involved in.”

Some police representatives in Southern California have argued against playing a more active role in immigration enforcement because they say it may deter illegal immigrants from reporting crimes or serving as witnesses.

While immigration’s new proposal makes sense for repeat offenders, Brown said there is no interest in the department in taking on a more proactive role.

“It’s just not something we think we should be doing,” he said, adding that the department already has its hands full staying on top of local issues.

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