Law Enforcement Authority to Verify Immigration Status

By Jessica M. Vaughan on April 16, 2010

Contact: Jessica Vaughan (508)346-3380 and [email protected]

A new CIS-LEAPS.TV web program discusses a recent court decision affirming that local law enforcement officers may question suspected illegal aliens encounter about their immigration status and then contact immigration authorities (ICE). Known as Estrada v. Rhode Island, this important decision should reassure local officers that they are not obliged to look the other way when they discover immigration law violations and provides guidance on reasonable actions officers may take in questioning foreign nationals.

The web program is moderated by Jessica Vaughan, CIS Director of Policy Studies, and features Michael Hethmon, General Counsel of the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), and Garrett Roe, Staff Attorney at IRLI. Hethmon and Roe prepared an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the National Fraternal Order of Police in support of the Rhode Island state trooper. Hethmon and Roe point out how LEA best practices such as 1) knowledge of acceptable ID documents, 2) using ICE’s Law Enforcement Support Center to verify status and 3) understanding federal laws that require foreign nationals to carry evidence of their lawful status will help avoid racial profiling or discrimination.

The case was heard by the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. and involved a traffic stop in which a Rhode Island state trooper discovered a van-load of illegal aliens being transported to illegal employment. The unsuccessful lawsuit was brought by the Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU. For more information on the case see Ms. Vaughan’s blog article, “Appeals Court Rules Favorably on State Trooper Questioning of Illegal Aliens.”

This CIS web program is available online on demand 24x7. An audio MP3 podcast and complete, editable, PowerPoint version of the program are also available.