Providence police aren’t likely to expand their role in helping federal immigration officials. This comes as Homeland Security officials seek to employ local police departments in the ramped-up deportation of undocumented immigrants.
Memos from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released Monday directed the expansion of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement program known as 287(g). The program trains state and municipal police to perform functions of immigrations officers. That includes investigating and detaining undocumented immigrants for potential deportation proceedings.
Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said immigration reform is needed, but said this program is the wrong way to do it.
“Trying to press local law enforcement to do the job that has been ignored and abused over the last two decades,” said Pare.
Pare said such an agreement with ICE would erode trust between police and city residents, some of whom are undocumented.
“We’ve built up a trust and a relationship with our community, and ICE and immigration is a complicated system as to why you’re here,” said Pare. “And we don’t have the training; we don’t have the knowledge to be making those determinations.”
Currently Providence police will not detain an undocumented resident for federal authorities without a criminal warrant. The Department of Homeland Security directs the expansion of the program specifically in states near the southern border, but several municipal agencies in the northeast have already taken part.