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BernCo Responds to U.S. Department of Justice Letter Regarding Access to Undocumented Immigrants in Detention Facilities

08/03/2017

Bernalillo County responds to a U.S. Department of Justice letter to the City of Albuquerque regarding access to undocumented immigrants in detention facilities. The letter spells out specific DOJ requirements that have to be met in order for the city to qualify for federal crime-fighting funding.

Bernalillo County has an internal policy that addresses this issue. The Board of County Commissioners voted 4-1 on March 14 to declare Bernalillo County an immigrant-friendly county that welcomes and encourages immigrants to live, work and study in the county and participate in community affairs.

The resolution directed that no municipal resources be used, including that of the Sheriff’s Department, to identify someone’s immigration status or arrest them on the sole basis of status, unless otherwise required by law to do so.

Here’s what this means in practical terms:

If someone is arrested for drunken driving tonight, they would be booked at the Metropolitan Detention Center based upon those criminal charges filed by the arresting officer.

Staff at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center do not check their immigration status unless required to do so by a court order.

People are booked and released at the county jail based on decisions made by judges and whether defendants can post bail.

The March 14 resolution also notes the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution recognizes the sovereign status of the states and their political subdivisions, and precludes the federal government from attempting to compel state and local governments to assist the federal government in enforcing federal laws.

The resolution also says the county should not adopt policies that may violate resident’s constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment, such as immigration detainers.

The internal policy known as an administrative resolution stands, unless otherwise provided by law.

A copy of the resolution can be viewed by clicking this link.

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