Misdemeanor violations leading to deportations

Since the inception of its partnership with federal immigration authorities, the Metropolitan Police Department has repeatedly said it would target only violent, "higher-level" criminal illegal immigrants for potential deportation.

But more than a third of inmates the police department has referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the partnership’s first 18 months were arrested on misdemeanor charges including jaywalking, driving without a license and other minor traffic offenses, according to police records.

Such arrests have again raised concerns among civil rights leaders worried that the partnership — which allows specially trained officers at the Clark County Detention Center to identify immigration violators and place immigration holds on them — targets Hispanics, could lead to racial profiling and makes people afraid to report crimes.

"Police officers should be focused on keeping the community safe, not enforcing petty crimes in the hopes that their target may be deportable," said Maggie McLetchie, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.

Las Vegas police insist the arrests on minor charges do not violate the department’s stated intent to target only illegal immigrants who have committed violent crimes. That’s because a person who is arrested for jaywalking, for example, would only be referred to ICE if they had a police record that included a violent crime, police said.

"You may have a guy who got arrested for jaywalking, but it wasn’t jaywalking that got him deported," said Officer Jacinto Rivera, a police spokesman. "It was his prior history of robbery and kidnapping."

McLetchie said she is concerned some "overzealous" police officers could use "low-level arrests as a way to get people in the door" for eventual deportation.

"Some of these are arrests for things that shouldn’t even be crimes," she said. "I don’t think anybody wants to live in a police state where people are getting hauled off to jail because they look like they might be undocumented."

The partnership between the Department and ICE, dubbed "287(g)" after the corresponding section of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, is one of dozens of such agreements with law enforcement agencies in 26 states. It lets local law enforcement hold deportable inmates after they otherwise would be released so immigration officials can take custody of them.

The local partnership began in November 2008.

In its first 18 months, local corrections officers placed immigration holds on more than 3,300 inmates, according to booking records the department provided to the Review-Journal.

More than a third of those inmates were arrested on misdemeanor charges, including fishing without a license, sleeping in public, possessing an unregistered animal and "walking on side of road."

Rivera said such arrests are typically part of police checkpoints or targeted policing in high-crime areas.

"If it’s a hot area, anyone who commits any crime there, we are going to be effecting an arrest," he said. "If you are in an area known for violence or narcotics, and you have a history of that, you’ll get arrested for jaywalking."

Rivera said officers have no interest in hassling or arresting illegal immigrants who have committed no other crimes.

He noted that police chose not to place immigration holds on at least 2,300 inmates found to be in the country illegally during the partnership’s first 18 months, because they had no prior criminal history and had been booked on only minor charges.

"Cops want to catch guys who are preying on people," Rivera said.

"When you go home at night, you want to know the individual you put in jail means a victim won’t be victimized tonight. If that (being in the country illegally) is their only crime, it makes no difference to the overall safety of the community."

As for targeting people for arrest just because they are Hispanic or might be illegal immigrants, Rivera said, "We can’t do that. We don’t have the power."

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie has said he supports the 287(g) partnership because it targets violent criminals and because federal officials aren’t adequately enforcing immigration laws.

Gillespie emphasized that a person’s immigration status will be checked only after that person has been arrested on other charges.

Before the agreement, local officers did not have the ability to check the immigration status of inmates and had to rely on ICE to investigate and place detainers on potential immigration violators.

ICE did so only sporadically, and many deportable inmates would be released in the meantime, police said.

The department spends $1.3 million a year to staff the 287(g) program.

ICE deported 1,897 of the inmates referred by local correction officers between November 2008 and May 2010, the agency said. Other inmates may still be awaiting final decisions in immigration court. Those proceedings can drag on for months or even years.

Programs such as 287(g) tend to have a chilling effect on the immigrant community, said Peter Ashman, a local immigration attorney who also is a member of the board of the local ACLU.

"Many law enforcement agencies have taken a pass on 287(g) because they know it’s going to make it difficult for them to have good relationships with local immigrant communities," Ashman said. "It damages that relationship and makes us all less safe."

The local 287(g) partnership was unnecessary, he said.

"The argument was it would be used to get rid of dangerous criminals. We were doing that already."

But Ashman said controversy over the local partnership has faded somewhat over time, because there is "no evidence police haven’t held true to their word that this was only going to be an inside-the-station enforcement tool."

"If somebody has been convicted of a serious crime and should have been deported before, it’s kind of hard to argue that they shouldn’t get deported now," he said.

Of the inmates local corrections officers referred to ICE, 17 percent had been deported before, according to police records.

The majority of inmates were citizens of Mexico, but they also came from the United Kingdom, Poland, Russia, Italy, China, Vietnam and other countries.

Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at lcurtis@reviewjournal.com.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Tate Elementary shows academic progress after categorical funding
Students at Tate Elementary in Las Vegas has benefited from a program to boost education funding in targeted student populations, known as categorical funding. One program called Zoom helps students who have fallen below grade level in reading. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
Jesus Jara State of the Schools address
Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara delivers his State of the Schools address on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Naft sworn in to Clark County Commission
Michael Naft, chosen by Gov. Steve Sisolak to be his replacement on the Clark County Commission, was sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas police piecing together details of fatal shooting
Six hours after the fact, Las Vegas homicide detectives worked to reconstruct the scene of a shooting early Jan. 7 that left one man dead in the southeast valley. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dyer Lawrence explains college football playoff system proposal
Las Vegan Dyer Lawrence has a new idea for a college football playoff system that includes a unique scheduling component called National Call Out Day. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death row inmate Scott Dozier found dead in his cell
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier is dead. Dozier’s death ends his legal odyssey, which began in 2007 when he was convicted in the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller, but does little to clarify what’s next for Nevada’s death penalty.
I-15 southbound near Primm closed after ‘major crash’
A rollover crash Saturday morning involving at least nine vehicles on southbound Interstate 15 near Primm caused an hourslong traffic delay. Traffic was backed up to Sloan, live traffic cameras show. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death Valley visitors deal with shutdown
Visitors staying at the Furnace Creek Campground were forced to move from the campground following health and safety concerns due to lack of resources during the partial government shutdown at Death Valley National Park in Calif., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal @vegasphotograph
Half of homicides in Henderson for 2018 domestic violence related
Lt. Kirk Moore of the public information office of the city of Henderson police department speaks to the Review-Journal in Henderson, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Henderson saw a slight increase in homicides in the past year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak stops by Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak kicks off his tour to Carson City, which will take him from Las Vegas, through Tonopah, and up to the capital city. First stop is the Downtown Boys & Girls Club.
Certificates for renewing wedding vows in Clark County
The Marriage License Bureau in Clark County began issuing a Certificate of Vow Renewal to married couples who are renewing their wedding vows on Jan. 3, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas flu season better than last year (so far)
Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief medical officer and director of clinical services at the Southern Nevada Health District, said there were 24 flu-related deaths at this point in the flu season. No deaths have been reported so far this year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Las Vegas Valley’s First Baby of 2019
The first 2019 baby in the Las Vegas Valley was Melialani Chihiro Manning, born at 12:10 a.m. at Henderson Hospital. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Sources: Henderson Constable may face more charges
Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell may face additional charges ... stemming from his spending of county funds, sources said. Mitchell was indicted earlier this month on five felony theft and fraud charges ... after a Las Vegas Review-Journal story questioned his spending. But grand jury records show even more extensive spending including ... an $800 dinner at steakhouse ... nearly 200 atm withdrawals mostly at gambling establishments ... and even Disneyland tickets. But his attorney plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges.
Las Vegas NYE Restrictions and Enhanced Security
If you are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street, be aware that you are not allowed to bring backpacks, coolers, strollers or glass. There will also be an increase in security to ensure safe celebrations across town.
Catholic Charities serves up 53rd annual Christmas dinner
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and more than 100 volunteers served 1,000 Christmas meals to Southern Nevada's homeless and less fortunate. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @kmcannonphoto)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jeffrey Martin Added To Nevada's Black Book
Martin was one of four men convicted of theft and cheating at gambling in 2016 in Clark County District Court and sentenced to prison. The Nevada Gaming Commission voted unanimously Thursday to include Martin in the black book.
Raiders Stadium Timelapse
Construction on the new Raiders stadium continues in Las Vegas.
Buffalo Wild Wings security video
Security footage from a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in southwest Las Vegas captured a driver who repeatedly crashed into a vehicle in a failed attempt to squeeze into a tight parking spot.
The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
Opportunity Village's Magical Forest added 1 million lights and a synchronized music show visible from all over the forest this year. The holiday attraction, which began in 1991, has a train, rides, food and entertainment along with the light displays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like