Looking Locally at Illegal Immigration

When it comes to enforcing illegal immigration both Bryan and College Station police departments say its not what they're trained to do.

"It would be like the Bryan Police Department delivering mail its just not our function," said Peter Scheets, assistant chief at the Bryan Police Department.

"That's a federal civil law," he said. "Local law enforcement has no jurisdiction enforcing immigration laws. We do enforce criminal offenses. We do state statutes, city ordinances, that sort of thing. If we see an individuals immigration status its not a concern to us, it's their criminal behavior."

And College Station police agree. They say when an illegal immigrant reports a crime, police are only concerned about the crime, it's when the immigrant is arrested that the federal government comes into play.

"Under most circumstances, if we make an arrest, then find out the person is an illegal immigrant, INS will be notified and its up to them what happens next," said Assistant Chief Larry Johnson with College Station PD.

It's a formality Bryan police believe the Hispanic community doesn't understand. Last year, several police were involved in a shoot-out at Taqueria Arandas in Bryan. A culmination to several crimes targeting the Hispanic community. Police say the shoot-out probably would not have happened if someone would have told police about the prior incidents.

"It would benefit the city if we established communication with them," said Scheets, "let them understand what our role is and open a line of communication and get crimes reported to us so we could act on them."

But some community members are still opposed to the idea of illegal immigration.

"Joe public is having to pay for it," said local resident Kay Spencer, "and I kind of resent that."

"I'm not out to arrest everybody for that I think if some is here illegally," said Becky Segrest, " but that should not be allowed to continue."

However, local law enforcment see it continuing, and while it does, they'll continue to follow their job description, solving crimes and leaving the civil violations to the federal government.


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