Officials clear recent confusion: GPD will NOT report undocumented immigrants to ICE
There's been a lot of talk about the Gainesville Police Department’s role in reporting immigrants to ICE Tuesday after a report said GPD could report a domestic violence victim and others to ICE after an incident Sunday.
“Let me be clear,” said Officer Ben Tobias of the Gainesville Police Department. “The Gainesville Police Department is not immigration agents and our mission is not to determine the immigration status of anyone here.”
Gainesville mayor, Lauren Poe, quickly responded by saying “This is not who we are.” He said it would discourage undocumented victims from reporting crimes.
“GPD’s policy is not to report them to ICE.,” Poe said. “There is no federal mandate that we do so. Nor have we ever reported anyone to ICE through our normal procedures.”
The confusion stemmed from a GPD policy that says officers must include whether someone they talked to for a report is a foreign national.
GPD says officers will only report it to ICE if it is under federal regulation - but right now there isn't one.
“That ‘as required by federal regulation’ is a catch all because at the time that was drafted, there was no federal regulation,” Tobias said. “It was in anticipation of one possibly being created. That way we don’t have to update that policy every time the laws changed.”
“Immigration laws are the responsibility of the federal government, and we are your local law enforcement professionals,” said Brett Rhodenizer of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. “We are here to make sure you are safe in our community and take care of those violent crimes you depend on local law enforcement to address.”
However, The Alachua County Jail - however will report undocumented immigrants to ICE once they're accused of a crime.
But police again stress that victims and witnesses should not be worried.
“No matter how someone got into Gainesville Florida, I want that person if they are in crisis and need help, to call us and not be afraid we are going to take steps to report them to any immigration because right now there is no federal regulation requiring us to do so,” Tobias said.
GPD says Chief Tony Jones has asked for this portion of the policy to be rewritten to prevent any confusion in the future.