APD to partner with ICE agents in new Prisoner Transport Center
When he ran for mayor, Richard J. Berry promised voters that he would work to eliminate procedures that make Albuquerque a sanctuary for criminals. The mayor released new guidelines Thursday for processing prisoners that will accomplish this task. These guidelines will exceed the requirements of the current policy by equipping the new Prisoner Transport Center (PTC) with technology and the resources to check the immigration status of everyone who is processed through the facility, regardless of nationality.
These changes will eliminate the confusion created by the existing policy and ensure that our police officers and the public know that anytime someone is arrested in Albuquerque for a crime their immigration status is always pertinent.
Additionally, Mayor Berry has reached an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in which federal agents will be provided office space and work along side of the city's PTC personnel. This new partnership directly supports the Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Communities Program.
“This plan ends the sanctuary city policy for criminals while protecting victims and witnesses,” Mayor Berry said. “By making immigration checks mandatory for everyone arrested regardless of their nationality, skin color or language, we are removing racial profiling from the equation,” stated Mayor Berry. "There are still clear policies in place to prohibit racial profiling in the field. I am on record opposing racial profiling as evidenced by my vote for the anti-racial profiling law while in the legislature. This approach is not about targeting any group of people based on race. It’s about targeting criminals, plain and simple. If you are a criminal, I want Albuquerque to be a bad place for you to be.”
ICE officials said the agreement will allow them to do their job more effectively.
“This is not a good day for criminal aliens who before today may have not been identified by ICE at the Metropolitan Detention Center,” said Alfredo Campos, acting field office director for ICE Detention and Removal Operations in El Paso. “This new partnership with the city of Albuquerque allows ICE to potentially identify criminals who conceal their true identity from law enforcement.”
“Running an individual’s fingerprints through ICE’s Secure Communities and Criminal Alien Program gives ICE another opportunity to discover if a criminal alien is using a false name or identity,” Campos said.
After meeting with city attorneys and his public safety advisors and listening to advocates' concerns about racial profiling and victims' rights, Berry decided that these new procedures, including the agreement with ICE, were the appropriate measures needed to ensure the safety of the citizens of Albuquerque.
“This is not an immigration issue, this is a public safety issue,” Mayor Berry said. “We are taking a balanced approach to making our community safe from criminals while eliminating racial profiling and protecting victims and witnesses. This plan also keeps our law enforcement officers engaged in their normal day-to-day crime fighting activities instead of spending significant resources to enforce federal law.”
Mayor Berry emphasized that these guidelines only affect suspects and those who have been arrested for a crime. Under no circumstances will the Berry Administration allow these new procedures to apply to victims, witnesses or persons who are not suspects in a crime. “As far as these new procedures are concerned, a person going about their day to day business has no reason to fear that they will be questioned about their legal status. Further, victims and witnesses will not have their immigration status checked when they call for help or to report a crime. They will always be afforded the highest protections to ensure their safety," Mayor Berry said.