Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez says he will not support ‘mass roundups’ of immigrants
Martinez reiterates his commitment to community, Latinos
February 24, 2017
When the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released two memos earlier this week outlining President Donald Trump's administration's plans to toughen the country's policies regarding illegal immigrants, another wave of uncertainty and fear swept across Summit County's Latino community.
The administration's decision to implement new policies for curtailing immigration and speeding up the process for which immigrants are detected, apprehended, detained and removed, came just days after the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) apprehended four immigrants in Park City.
In the memos, the Department of Homeland Security describes its plan to harden the country's policies for dealing with undocumented immigrants. The plans include hiring an additional 5,000 U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, expanding the 287 (g) program in border states to empower state and local law enforcement officials to enforce immigration policies, and broadening the criterion for deporting immigrants to "no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement."
In an interview with The Park Record on Thursday, Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez reiterated his commitment to protecting those in the community, "whether they are documented or undocumented." Martinez adamantly stated that he will not use his deputies to enforce federal regulations.
"I don't really feel any pressure about it," Martinez said. "If the federal government chooses to ramp up policies and expedite the deportation process, that is a federal issue and it will not affect my office."
Martinez said he has "zero interest" in participating in the in the 287 (g) program, likening it to "using my deputies to go track down those who are wanted for white-collar tax evasion." He said "it is a federal issue that I will not use country resources to address."
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"I will not be asking the federal government to deputize my deputies to conduct federal law enforcement under the 287 (g)," Martinez said. "But it's not like I'm protecting illegal immigrants."
When an undocumented immigrant who has committed a crime is taken into custody and booked into the Summit County Jail, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is notified, Martinez said. He said the agency then has 48 hours to pick up the suspect.
"If anyone breaks the law in Summit County who is undocumented we will contact ICE, but I will not use my deputies to go out and engage with ICE to do mass deportations," Martinez said, adding "The Summit County Jail is not a certified ICE holding facility."
"Per policy, we notify ICE on anyone that is undocumented. All those executive orders would do is give ICE a little more latitude in how they affect that policy. It doesn't change how we conduct law enforcement on a local level," he said.
Martinez said he believes in "community-centric law enforcement" with a holistic approach to policing. He said whether someone is documented or undocumented "you should be treated civilly and humanely."
While Martinez emphasized it will be "business as usual," he sympathized with the segment of the community that is feeling anxious.
"I don't blame them for feeling that way. (Park City Police Chief) Wade and I feel like we have tried very hard to build that trust with the Latino community, documented or undocumented," Martinez said. "When something like this happens, whether it is ICE or another police department or Sheriff's Office, it can tend to taint the water and put us all in a bad light.
"All I can do is show empathy for those who are still scared and do exactly what we are doing right now because we can only do so much to alleviate those fears," he said.
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