BALTIMORE (WJZ)– First, federal agents announce they would begin checking the immigration status of people arrested in Baltimore. Now, the city’s mayor has ordered police not to do the Feds’ work for them.
Alex DeMetrick reports the order is meant to keep communication open between immigrants and police.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the lead federal agency dealing with illegal immigrants. With an executive order by the mayor, Baltimore police are not to take on that enforcement job.
“Police are working to make our city safe. We are not working as immigration agents,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.
“We felt a wave of fear begin to envelope the community,” Elizabeth Alex of Casa de Maryland said.
That began with the announcement that people taken to jail in Baltimore will have their immigration status checked by ICE agents.
In Baltimore’s growing Hispanic community, that’s made dealing with police– even a call for help– less certain.
“With this announcement today, we’re hopeful communities will once again regain that trust of the police department, and continue to call them for help,” Alex said.
Under the mayor’s order: No discrimination by police or city agencies against any city resident. The mayor also ordered no city funds be spent investigating civil violations of immigration law.
And questions about immigration status may not be made to start a civil immigration investigation.
The mayor’s order does not stop police from cooperating with federal agents in cases involving undocumented immigrants suspected of criminal activity.
“And the city’s not going to stand in the way of that enforcement,” Rawlings-Blake said.
But it won’t be checking visas for ICE, just to be checking.
The mayor’s executive order is also making a request of ICE, asking them to identify themselves as ICE agents and not simply as police.