Immigration enforcement not priority for Coconino officials

Posted at 12:18 PM, Feb 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-20 15:37:35-05

As President Donald Trump moves to toughen immigration enforcement, law enforcement officials in Coconino County are reminding people who are in the country illegally that cracking down on immigration isn't their priority.

County Sheriff Jim Driscoll has urged immigrants not to fear contacting local officers if they are in distress or have a tip regarding criminal activity, the Arizona Daily Sun reported ( that .

"I want to make it clear that our department does not ask about papers and immigration status when we are contacted," Driscoll said. "We don't enforce federal immigration and we have no intention of doing that."

The Sheriff's Department said ignoring the immigration status of witnesses and victims is a matter of keeping public trust among immigrants.

"When people are exploited by a domestic violence issue or have a tip about a situation of human trafficking we don't want them to worry about getting someone deported," " Driscoll said.

Since taking office, Trump has announced plans to step up immigration enforcement, including hiring thousands more federal agents and building a border wall.

Trump also is reviving a long-standing program that deputizes local officers, who have traditionally stayed out of immigration enforcement, to enforce federal immigration law.

While officials say people reporting a crime in Coconino County don't have to worry about being reported to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, suspects who are arrested by deputies or Flagstaff police will have their immigration status checked when they are booked into jail in the county.

Matt Figueroa, detention commander for the Coconino County Detention Facility, said ICE is notified of arrests of people in the country illegally.

"When we see that someone is undocumented we notify ICE and it is their responsibility to enforce any immigration issues," Figueroa said. "ICE may choose to set up an interview with the individual or they may not do anything. We are required to inform ICE, not enforce immigration law."

Last year the sheriff's department informed ICE of 84 people in the country illegally who were booked and detained.