Vt. amends policy on illegal immigrants
MONTPELIER -- Vermont state police will no longer try to identify suspected illegal immigrants if that’s their only believed violation, according to a new policy announced Friday, prompted by the detention of two Mexican farm workers who were passengers in a vehicle stopped for speeding.
Some Vermont police agencies already have taken a hands-off approach, focusing on criminal activity and not immigration status. Now the state police are making that part of their bias-free policing policy, Gov. Peter Shumlin and the public safety commissioner said.
The policy -- with a new section on immigration and citizenship status -- says state police will not ask an individual about his or her immigration status when investigating a civil violation but can ask about it in investigations of criminal offenses or suspicious activity in certain cases. The investigation must be based on reasonable suspicion and the immigration status of the suspect must be relevant to the investigation and not the reason for it.
"This is essentially a situation where the Vermont state police, as have already Burlington police and Middlebury and a number of sheriffs departments ... have adopted a policy that says: ‘Our main focus is going to be Vermont criminal statute violations and we’re not going to go out of our way to one: investigate just simple immigration law violations, and two: we’re not going to feel compelled in every instance that doesn’t fit federal enforcement priorities to turn those individuals over to federal authorities,"’ said Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell.
Sorrell said the policy is consistent with what Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has done.
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