Undocumented residents and people visiting from another country should not hesitate to contact local law enforcement if they need help. That's the message from the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office.
President Donald Trump made headlines again Friday when he announced Immigration and Customs Enforcement will conduct raids this Sunday to deport immigrants with outstanding orders to leave the United States.
That might cause someone who is a victim of a crime or who witnesses a crime not to report it. That's the last thing the Sheriff's Office wants to happen, Capt. Mark Agre said.
"No one should be afraid to call law enforcement, especially if their well-being is in jeopardy," Agre said Friday.
He reassures residents that neither the Sheriff's Office nor the Red Wing Police Department goes out looking specifically for undocumented residents.
When someone commits a crime, is arrested and is brought to the Adult Detention Center, there is a process. One of three things could happen at that point, if they are determined to be undocumented.
During intake, if it's determined that someone is not a U.S. citizen, then that person is put in contact via telephone with an ICE agent, Agre said. During that phone interview, one of three things takes place:
• ICE says they are aware of that person and nothing else is needed.
• ICE seeks a detainer. That is only a request by the U.S. government, Agre stressed; it is not a hold. When the person is released from jail for any number of reasons - local charges are dropped, bail or bond is posted, time is served, etc. - the individual is free to walk out the door.
"We will not hold that person one minute longer," Agre said.
• ICE says that a warrant has been signed by a federal magistrate or judge and the person should be detained.
Agre has spent nearly 30 years with the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office and became the jail administrator in January. He called such a warrant very unusual; he said he's encountered perhaps five in his career.
In those rare cases, the hold process is the same as when a warrant has been issued for a U.S. citizen.
"We're not treating them any different. It's all based on a crime they may have committed," Agre said.
He and Sheriff Marty Kelly have met with Hispanic Outreach of Goodhue County to explain the process.
"Don't hesitate to call," Agre said.