With Immigration and Customs Enforcement expected to round up thousands of undocumented migrants throughout the country starting Sunday, Rochester and Olmsted County officials are reconfirming local law enforcement does not participate in the federal agency’s activities.
“The City of Rochester and the Rochester Police Department pride ourselves on being part of and a champion of a compassionate community,” states a release the city shared in English and Spanish on Thursday. “The Rochester Police Department does not collect or maintain information related to the immigration status of residents and visitors. Also, we do not employ or assign officers to the enforcement of federal immigration laws.”
Rochester Mayor Kim Norton said the stance is not a change for the city’s police department, which has maintained a distance from federal immigration enforcement activities in the area.
Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson followed with a similar written statement. "The Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office law enforcement deputies do not engage in federal immigration violation enforcement," he wrote.
Torgerson and Rochester Police Chief James Franklin have noted deputies and officers respond to all calls for service and don’t want people to hesitate asking for help based on immigration status.
“The officer’s response and decision-making is based solely on the facts and circumstances of the incident, those involved, and its impact on our community,” the city’s statement reads.
Last year, Torgerson and other county officials held a series of conversations with members of the Latino community to discuss concerns about ICE actions in the county. The sheriff noted local law enforcement policies don’t honor ICE requests to hold people, since immigration violations are considered civil matters, and the detention center solely deals with criminal charges.
On Thursday, his statement indicated no communication has been sent to the county regarding potential ICE activity in the upcoming days.
"(The) Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office is not aware of any specific enforcement activity by the federal government in our communities nor have we been informed of any immigration enforcement operation anywhere in Olmsted County," he wrote.
An ICE operation did reportedly arrest Southern Minnesota residents in August, but details on who was arrested were not released, despite a Post Bulletin request sent to the federal agency.
With the potential for concern due to the uncertainty of future raids, the city's announcement includes potential contacts for people needing resources. They are:
• Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, 651-287-3715, www.ilcm.org
• Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association (IMAA), 507-289-5960, http://imaa.net
• Diversity Council, 507-282-9951, www.diversitycouncil.org
According to national news reports citing current and former homeland security officials, nationwide raids to arrest undocumented immigrants have been scheduled to start Sunday.
Discussion of the potential raids would come weeks after President Trump tweeted ICE planned to conduct raids. Those actions were reportedly delayed.