Activists, county commissioner protest police agreement with ICE


Miranda Alam/Special to the Sun

Jorge Franco, a member of Arriba Workers Center speaks during a gathering outside of Metro Police headquarters in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. Community members spoke out to demand answers from Sheriff Joe Lombardo about LVMPD’s agreement with ICE. .

Published Thu, Feb 7, 2019 (4:03 p.m.)

Updated Fri, Feb 8, 2019 (4:54 p.m.)

Update: A Metro Police official said Friday the department has no record of Franco's arrest. 

Jorge Franco stood in paint-covered jeans as he spoke — in Spanish, then in English — about his experience in detention. He says he missed the birth of his child and was almost evicted.

“(These immigrants) are not criminals. They are family members, they are fathers, they have a job,” he said.

Franco was taking part in a protest with the nonprofits Arriba Workers Center and Make the Road Nevada outside of Metro Police headquarters, demanding data and information about how many undocumented immigrants have been turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents under an agreement between the agency and Metro.

Lalo Montoya, the political director for Make the Road Nevada, said the goal of the protest was to make Metro aware people are concerned and watching. “We’ve seen since the new (presidential) administration that they are withholding data,” he said.

Local police departments can delegate officers to serve as immigration enforcement liaisons in conjunction with ICE. The so-called 287(g) agreement has changed over the years.

According to the American Immigration Council, three models for the agreement existed at one time: task force, jail enforcement and hybrid models.

Under the task force model, officers could question or arrest anyone they suspected of being an undocumented immigrant.

The jail enforcement model allows officers to hand over to ICE undocumented immigrants arrested on other counts. In Franco's case, Metro said Friday it has no record of his detainment.

The hybrid model combines the two.

The task force and hybrid models are no longer in use.

Officers in the current jail enforcement model don’t have discretion on whether to report undocumented immigrants in the jail system. ICE has say over whether a detainer is placed on an arrested undocumented immigrant.

“We don’t get to say, ‘Pick this guy (but) not this guy,” said Officer Aden OcampoGomez, a Metro spokesman.

The data the groups seek — how many undocumented immigrants have been turned over to ICE — was not immediately available from the department. OcampoGomez said that information is maintained by ICE, but the department is looking for it.

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom attended the protest and spoke briefly. He said children have ended up at the county’s Department of Family Services after their parents have been detained and stressed the system’s strain on police relations in some communities.

“I don’t want these communities to be fearful of the police, and that’s the current system,” he said.

OcampoGomez said immigration enforcement powers have never been given to patrol officers, explicitly to avoid causing that fear.

“We don’t want that to happen, because that’s how we put fear in our citizens,” he said.

Montoya said the agreement is damaging communities and the city.

“Las Vegas would not be what it is without our immigrants — documented and undocumented,” Montoya said.

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