Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo claims he directed his officers not to place immigration holds on undocumented immigrants with only low-level traffic bench warrants last year, but activists are demanding proof.
Lombardo in a tweeted statement Wednesday said the policy changed sometime “last year.”
Please see below for my 287g response. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/FkatxBCfEO
— Joseph Lombardo (@Sheriff_LVMPD) February 13, 2019
“I was not forced to change the policy,” read Lombardo’s statement. “I made the change because it was the right thing to do when I did it.”
On Feb. 7, immigration advocates along with Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom protested outside Metro after filing an open records request seeking details and data about Metro’s 287(g) detention policy agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The 287(g) agreement allows the Department of Homeland Security to enter into voluntary agreements to authorize local law enforcement agencies to assist in immigration enforcement. In practice, police can detain non-U.S. citizens — even on an unpaid traffic ticket warrant — until ICE takes custody, which can lead to possible deportation proceedings for undocumented immigrants.
Lombardo said Metro’s 287(g) process involves a “very detailed review of arrestee’s criminal history before a determination is made to place a detainer” on an undocumented immigrant who’s been arrested. Metro uses 287(g) to help identify violent criminals who are in Las Vegas illegally, Lombardo said.
Immigration advocacy groups were not satisfied with the Sheriff’s declaration that Metro does not hold undocumented immigrants with minor criminal offenses like traffic bench warrants.
LaLo Montoya, political director of Make the Road Nevada, said they were not aware of the policy change made last year and found out about it through Lombardo’s tweet.
“There was never anything public on that,” said Arriba Las Vegas Worker Center Director Bliss Requa-Trautz of the policy change. “I’ve talked to attorneys that hadn’t heard of it either.”
The Arriba Las Vegas Worker Center again called on Lombardo to answer its open records request seeking details and data about Metro’s 287(g) detention policy agreement with (ICE) beginning with sharing a written draft policy detailing their new limits on their collaboration with ICE.
“Sheriff Lomardo’s actions validate the need to prioritize the health and safety of our Las Vegas community over Trump’s deportation priorities,” wrote Requa-Trautz in a statement. “The suggested new policy regarding low level offenses indicates a broader underlying problem that must be addressed: With 287(g), ICE remains embedded in the Las Vegas jail and that sows mistrust.”
In Nevada, traffic violations are a criminal offense rather than a civil offense, meaning a small infraction like a broken taillight can lead to arrest. The immigrant community insists that ICE detainments over small infractions has continued separating families.
The records request made by immigration advocates, Arriba Las Vegas Workers Center and Make the Road Nevada, asked for comprehensive data on all forms of collaboration between Metro and ICE in the records request they submitted, including staffing information, number of detainers issued, and information on the total cost of Metro’s collaboration with ICE.
In their response to the records request, Metro said the information could take 30 days to collect, if not more, depending on the volume of information the request entails.
Updated with additional comments from Arriba Las Vegas Worker Center Director Bliss Requa-Trautz