Group Looking to Change Policy

Feb 28, 2012



A local group is pressing law enforcement in Dona Ana County to stop asking for people's immigration status during routine traffic stops. The list of complaints continues to grow. “We have a lot of witnesses, a lot of people that have been stopped in Chaparral in other areas of the county that they have been asked for the legal status,” said Jose Salgado who is part of the Taskforce for Immigrant Advocacy and Services in Southern New Mexico. The group wants the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Department to change its current standard operation procedures. “The sheriff’s office asking the legal status to the people in the county and I don’t think that’s the sheriff’s office’s job.  We think it should be left to the immigration office or the federal government,” he said. Members of the group say the action's of the sheriff's department is diving the community. “We as a community we feel threaten, we want a safe county for all, for everybody not just the ones that look like they speak good English, people like that,” he said. Leaders with the taskforce say they spoke with county Sheriff Todd Garrison along with the Dona Ana County District Attorney about making changes to the policy. “Each agency has its own set of rules instead of guidelines and for some strange reason we have our Sheriff’s department that seem to be even using border patrol for translation now to me that’s not really using border patrol appropriately,” said Maria Elena Johnson, member of the group. The taskforce wants the Dona Ana County Commission to hold regular meetings in the community where they can also hear from residents about the on-going problem. “This is giving my community a sense of fear.  My community now is hesitant when they need to go to the store or take their family to the doctor’s or even simply take their children to school,” she said. Reported by Carlos Correa