Yesterday, Attorney General Anne Milgram issued a directive to state law enforcement agencies regarding their relationship with federal immigration authorities. Milgram said local police must inquire about immigration status after an officer has arrested an individual on serious criminal charges, and shall notify Immigration Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), the prosecuting agency, and the court if there is a reason to believe that the arrestee may be an undocumented immigrant.
The directive includes arrests for all indictable offenses and driving while intoxicated as offenses for which a police officer should ask about an individual’s citizenship, nationality, and immigration status after an arrest.
The directive also declares that no law enforcement officer shall inquire about or investigate the immigration status of any victim, witness or person requesting assistance from the police. “The overriding mission of law enforcement officers in this state is to enforce the state’s criminal laws and to protect the community that they serve,” Milgram stated. “This requires the cooperation of, and positive relationships with, all members of the community. Public safety suffers if individuals believe that they cannot come forward to report a crime or cooperate with law enforcement.”
In addition to the use of the immigration status information for federal law enforcement purposes, the arresting agency may also report the immigration status to the judiciary for consideration in the setting of bail. However, at this point, the Rules of Court do not authorize the preparation of an arrest warrant in drunk driving cases. Moreover, immigration status is not including in the various criteria that judicial officers consider under the Rules of Court when determining whether to authorize the issuance of an arrest warrant.
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