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Deportation fears over Las Vegas police's partnership with federal immigration agency

Posted: 6:13 PM, Dec 19, 2017
Updated: 2017-12-20 19:09:57Z

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE) are expanding a partnership, and it's not going over well with many people in the valley's Latino and immigrant communities.

Some say they're worried it could make it easier to get deported.

LVMPD and ICE went over ground rules Tuesday for the program that allows designated Las Vegas corrections officers to carry out certain federal immigration enforcement functions.

Under the rules, anyone booked into the Clark County Detention Center can have their immigration status checked.

If undocumented, they could be deported.

Alicia Contreras, the interim state director for Mi Familia Vota, a nonprofit organization that advocates for Latinos and immigrants, is concerned the status enforcement will bleed out into the streets.

"It's hard to differentiate between uniforms," Contreras said. "It's hard to differentiate between, 'You can do this and you can't.'"

Henry Yates represented ICE at the meeting. He said the Trump administration has changed the agency's priorities.

"We no longer, under the new administration, actually require a conviction to put someone in [deportation] proceedings," Yates said.

Metro officials repeatedly stated to the heavily-Latino crowd that nothing will change for patrol officers out in the field.

"The only thing you have to fear is if you get arrested for a criminal offense," said Deputy Chief Richard Forbus. "We are not out there with mobile devices out there in cars. We're not out there looking for people or doing sweeps."

The assurances didn't diminish all of Contreras's fears.

She described an incident earlier this month when she said an officer asked her for her immigration status and social security number.

Forbus said the department would investigate her claims.

The department makes efforts to reach Latinos with its Hispanic citizens academy, a series of discussions spoken in Spanish that address issues in Hispanic communities.