MALDEF and Community Coalition Reach Agreement With City of Albuquerque on Policies Against Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Law

August 14, 2007

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Today, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation’s leading Latino legal organization, and a coalition of community organizations led by El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos announced that the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and the city of Albuquerque have agreed to implement new police procedures related to the city's policy against local enforcement of federal immigration laws. The new procedures clearly state that Albuquerque police are not to engage in investigating a person’s immigration status nor are they to enforce federal civil immigration laws.

'The new police procedures adopted by the city reinforce its policy that no city resources are to be used to investigate any immigration-related matter, which is strictly a federal responsibility,' said David Urias, MALDEF staff attorney and lead counsel in the case. 'The policy will in no way prevent officers from arresting anyone that commits a crime or that threatens the public safety, but instead only ensures that police officers focus on keeping all communities safe and encourages members of the immigrant community to trust officers.'

The implementation of the new APD procedures is the result of community efforts and part of a settlement between MALDEF and the city, which resolves the case of Gonzalez vs. the City of Albuquerque, a civil rights lawsuit filed in May of 2005. The suit alleged that Albuquerque police and employees of Albuquerque Public Schools violated the civil rights of three high school students by seizing and detaining them at Del Norte High School until immigration officials could question them about their immigration status.

Rachel LaZar, Director of El CENTRO, stated, 'We are proud to have engaged in dialogue with MALDEF, faith and civil rights leaders, victims’ advocates, the immigrant community, and law enforcement officials to ensure that the Albuquerque Police Department’s standard operating procedures reflect Albuquerque’s long history of passing non-discrimination policies that promote public safety, and reflect the unique needs and demography of our community. We will now work with the community to ensure that APD is held accountable for its implementation and that this policy is not violated.'

MALDEF previously settled the portion of the case against the Albuquerque Public Schools, which resulted in changes in school district policies. Under that settlement, school officials must ensure that all students, regardless of their immigration status, are safe and secure while in school. The settlement also prohibits school officials from reporting students to immigration officials while they are at school.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund