Austin has a new police chief. He won’t be changing the department’s practice of not questioning the immigration status of people apprehended at traffic stops.
Austin interim police chief Brian Manley spoke to the KXAN TV station. He said questioning the legal status of people who are stopped has never been police department policy.
Manley took over the department in late 2016 from Art Acevedo. He pledged to continue his predecessor’s approach to not questioning the immigration status of people who are stopped.
Not focusing on immigration status when someone is arrested for a crime is a policy that’s commonly associated with sanctuary cities, a target of the new Trump administration.
Manley said in the interview the police department has no reason to ask someone who is arrested about their immigration status. He said:
“We’re not going to get involved in their status as far as why they are in the country, how they are in the country whether they’re here illegally.”
Traffic Stops in Austin Will Focus on Criminal Conduct
The chief said the focus of his department will be on any criminal conduct that may have been committed and the need to keep local people safe from crime. The interviewer asked what the department would do if a lawmaker demand police ask suspects about their immigration status.
It’s a pertinent question with a bill intended to eliminate sanctuary cities set to be debated in the state legislature.
Manley said if a bill was passed the police department would need to look at how it could change its policies. He pointed to a longstanding tradition in Austin to focus on the criminal offense rather than the immigrant status of a suspect.
In Travis County, the new sheriff Sally Hernandez has taken a pro-immigrant stance. She has pledged not to honor detainer request made by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Detainer requests are often made without a warrant. ICE agents ask local jails to hold people suspected of being undocumented immigrants.
Over the next few months, we are likely to see major immigration reforms aimed at increasing deportations. Immigrants with criminal records will be in the front line.
Our Austin family immigration attorneys are well aware of the dangers of broad brush classifications. We know at first hand the importance of keeping families together.
If you need help with an immigration matter, please call us at (512) 474-4445.