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Local police depts respond to immigration policy

Posted at 11:21 PM, Feb 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-22 00:21:34-05

As part of President Donald Trump's new guidelines that would allow federal authorities to enforce immigration laws and take stronger enforcement actions against undocumented immigrants, Trump's plan also empowers state and local law enforcement agencies to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law. 

KMTV reached out to several police departments in the area to see how and if police departments would participate with the new policies, including Omaha Police Department, Bellevue, Fremont, Douglas County, Lancaster Sheriff's Department, Council Bluffs, Sarpy County, Ralston and La Vista. 

Three of the departments responded: Bellevue, La Vista, and the Lancaster Sheriff's Department Office, all saying local law enforcement does not have the authority to enforce federal law unless it's part of a task force, like the 287(g) Program.

Omaha Police Department's Chief Todd Schmaderer said earlier this month that OPD's mission was not to stop or detain people based off of legal status. 

La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten says local law enforcement will continue with business as usual, protecting and serving their communities, but says they will assist ICE with operations only if their assistance is requested. 

"If you come forward to local law enforcement, you're not going to get taken into custody because you are undocumented," says Lausten. "We're here to investigate the crime, we're here to take care of our victims regardless of legal status, and we need support. We need cooperation from our victims and from people who have information."

Lausten says there's no immediate plan to participate from his department. 

"There’s enough crime and enough activity around here to have something else that you’re going to be responsible for, until some of those things are worked out, I don’t know how local jurisdiction, even a suburban jurisdiction could be tasked with something that, there’s a lot of moving parts to this other than just somebody who may be undocumented that’s on the street," says Lausten.