Ahead of ICE raids, police address DC’s immigrant community — in 8 languages

File - D.C. police cars on Memorial Day weekend.(WTOP/Dave Dildine)
D.C. police want to maintain trust with the city’s immigrant communities, and they’re letting them know in their own languages.

Immigration attorneys and activists all over the country are bracing for the impending raids from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, reported to begin this Sunday.

The report from The New York Times renewed anxiety in the undocumented community, especially for those living in the 10 American cities said to be the focus of the raids — one of which is Baltimore.

One of the major questions is the extent to which local police forces will cooperate with ICE to detain undocumented immigrants. On Friday, D.C. police released a video articulating their position — in eight languages.

“Our immigrant community is a vital part of the fabric of our city … MPD has a long-standing policy that prohibits police officers from asking about citizenship or residency status to determine whether an individual is undocumented,” D.C. police said in a statement.

In the video, officers clearly and repeatedly state that D.C. police do not enforce federal immigration laws. Speaking Arabic, Amharic, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Vietnamese, French and Spanish, the officers emphasize the department’s wish to maintain trust with the D.C.’s immigrant community.

According to the statement, it is a violation of the D.C. police department’s policy to:

  • Question any person about residency or immigration status, unless the police officer is investigating any crime in which immigration status is relevant. (e.g., trafficking or harboring of immigrants)
  • Inquire through any database solely for the purpose of getting information about an individual’s immigration status

Police encouraged all members of the community — regardless of immigration status — to report crimes to help make D.C. “a safe place to live, work, and play.”

A full list of the videos and copies of the D.C. police department’s mission statement in all eight languages can be found on it’s website.

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