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Phoenix police to not take part in federal immigration deportations

Phoenix police officers walk an arrested protester to a squad car Thursday June 23, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/ Beatriz Costa-Lima)

PHOENIX — Phoenix city council members voted to protect the local police department from taking part in a federal immigration deportation force on Wednesday.

In a press release, the city council said it voted to “reject efforts by the Trump Administration to conscript Phoenix Police officers as part of a federal immigration deportation force.”

The Phoenix Police Department will also, according to the release, “modernize its policies to more clearly outline when officers can and cannot inquire about the immigration status of members of the public, particularly to protect crime victims, witnesses and juveniles on school campuses.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said in the release the Department of Homeland Security is pressuring local police departments to assist with mass deportation plans, but assured residents that the city’s police officers would not be taking part.

The changes come from six recommendations made by an Ad Hoc subcommittee that Stanton formed in February in response to President Donald Trump’s immigration executive order.

The recommendations included collecting and reporting data that is related to Senate Bill 1070 “more thoroughly,” working with local school districts to “foster trust” between resource officers and students, creating a program for refugees to learn English and pursue a higher education and establishing a website for resources available to refugees.

The police order recommendation passed with a 6-3 vote, while the rest passed with a 7-2 vote. Councilmen Jim Waring and Sal DiCiccio voted no on all of the recommendations, according to Stanton’s spokesman Robbie Sherwood, and Councilwoman Thelda Williams voted no on the first recommendation.

Stanton, who has been an outspoken advocate for protecting immigrants in the community, said officers need to “focus on community policing and will not enter into any scheme to turn our officers into federal immigration agents.”

“It’s important for Phoenix schools to focus on education, not immigration, and that we protect the civil rights of all Phoenix residents,” Stanton said in the release, adding that the department will continue to focus on catching violent criminals.

Trump has taken a hard-line stance against illegal immigration and refugees by enacting two executive orders — one of which was shut down by federal courts and reinstated through a new executive order — since he took office in January.

Since the executive orders were issued, Phoenix has been in the spotlight after two of its residents — Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos and Juan Carlos Fomperosa Garcia — were deported following routine check-ins with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In February, the Phoenix City Council voted down a measure to declare the city as a sanctuary city in order to protect immigrants, but councilmembers, and Stanton himself, said it would not work due to SB 1070.

Data obtained from local and federal law enforcement authorities have also shown the number of immigrant arrests and number of immigrant removals have slowly climbed in Arizona.



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