Las Vegas Metro suspends partnership with ICE

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) is suspending its partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as of October 20, 2019. They previously had an agreement to arrest and detain immigrants as part of the 287(g) program, which allowed state and local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws. 

“Our city attorney has determined that we will also suspend our 287(g) agreement with ICE and will not detain inmates on federal immigration holds due to a California court ruling,” the City of Las Vegas Twitter account shared on October 21. “We’d like to remind the public that our city jail is for misdemeanors only.” 

Clark County Chief of Police, Joe Lombardo, declared in a public release that while some might see the action as a setback, it will not hinder LVMPD’s ability to fight violent crime. This decision means that a simple parking ticket will no longer result in the deportation or the separation of families. 

According to the Department of Homeland Security, throughout 20 different states, 78 law enforcement agencies across the country participate in the 287(g) program. For participating agencies, this program requires local law enforcement officers to receive training and supervision from federal ICE agents. It also gives local officers permission to act on account of ICE for identification, arrest, service of warrants, and detainers for anything as simple as a traffic violation, until they can be transferred into ICE custody. 

“I find the mere suspension of this agreement to be disappointing, but I am happy with the progress,” senior and member of Student Organization of Latinos (SOL) Benjamin Rivas said. “Holding someone for potential deportation after a verdict has confirmed their safety is wholeheartedly unconstitutional.”

For a long time, the LVMPD was not entirely honest about its relationship with ICE. Immigrant and civil rights groups demanded transparency at the previous public meeting regarding the 287(g) program, after not receiving any specific information about the exact agreement that the LVMPD had made with ICE. The meeting ended in just 10 minutes, leaving advocates dumbfounded after they felt they were denied the right to public questioning. However, Metro finally came clean to their previous involvement at the most recent press release, as well as became one of the first participating states in the country to suspend this partnership. 

“I still remember the first time I ran into the effects of the 287(g) program. The daughter of this man called me at two in the morning asking for help. Her dad was detained at a traffic stop, and in less than 24 hours, he was enlisted to be deported. A broken back light was about to take the only person that was providing for this family, and three citizen kids were in danger of becoming homeless. The worst part was that we couldn’t do anything. The father was deported and the children were placed in the system for a while,” journalist Viridiana Vidal said. “That was 9 years ago, and since that day, I haven’t stopped advocating for the rights of immigrants. For years, I saw the pain and injustice first hand, those were the real effects of 287(g). The cancelation of this collaboration between immigration and LVMPD is one step closer to ending racist immigration enforcement and one step closer to avoiding more stories like the one that brought me to this fight in the first place.”