Fayette County

Mayor Gorton says Lexington police won’t assist with ICE raids without a warrant

US Border Patrol detains 1,036 migrants in El Paso

US Border Patrol agents detained 1,036 migrants who had crossed the Mexican border into El Paso on Thursday, May 30. In a press release, US Customs and Border Protection said it was the largest group of migrants ever encountered.
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US Border Patrol agents detained 1,036 migrants who had crossed the Mexican border into El Paso on Thursday, May 30. In a press release, US Customs and Border Protection said it was the largest group of migrants ever encountered.

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said Lexington police have not been asked by federal immigration officials to assist it in any raids and that city policy prohibits police from doing so unless there is a court order.

“U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement is a federal agency and has nationwide jurisdiction,” Gorton said. “Our city only assists ICE when there are arrest warrants issued from a judge, or there is a clear danger to public safety.”

Gorton joins mayors of other major cities who have said they will not help conduct immigration sweeps unless specifically ordered to do so by a judge. President Donald Trump last week threatened to deport millions of undocumented immigrants who have already been ordered by the courts to leave. Trump later back tracked and said he would delay the raids for two weeks to give Congress time to form a plan to stop the number of immigrants coming across the border.

The Washington Post and other media outlets reported the raids were to be conducted starting Sunday in at least 10 cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York and San Francisco. Those sweeps were to arrest and deport people who have already been ordered to leave the country, ICE officials said.

Gorton said Lexington welcomes immigrants and diversity.

“Lexington opens its arms to immigrants who provide great value to our community,” said Gorton. “We welcome the diversity of thought, experiences and culture. We are a better community because of the many cultures represented in Lexington.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said last week that Louisville Metro Police has not been asked to help ICE officers arrest and deport people in Kentucky’s largest city. The Louisville Metro Council has previously passed an ordinance that only allows Louisville police to help federal immigration officials if there is an outstanding criminal warrant, if a crime has occurred or is occurring or if there is a clear public danger.

That policy does not allow Louisville police to assist ICE in sweeps, such as knocking on doors, according to a news release about the 2017 changes.

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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer spoke to reporters during the red carpet interviews outside the Hermitage Derby Toast at 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Ky, on May 6, 2016 . Pablo Alcala palcala@herald-leader.com

Lexington does not have a similar ordinance but has a policy of only assisting ICE if there is a warrant or a judge’s order.

Lexington-Fayette Urban County Councilwoman Jennifer Reynolds said there is widespread concern among the city’s immigrant community about ICE sweeps. Reynolds district includes an area that includes many neighborhoods around Versailles Road, where many of the city’s foreign-born residents live.

“People are really concerned and scared,” Reynolds said. “ICE has been in some of the neighborhoods in my district. They were not part of sweeps but were serving warrants for certain individuals.”

Reynolds said she is researching what Louisville and other cities are doing to protect immigrant communities

“I am appreciative of the support from the mayor and the police chief of our immigrant population and am committed to collaborating with them to make our city a safer place for everyone,” Reynolds said after Gorton released her statement.

Meanwhile, several local groups — Kentucky Dream Coalition, Latino Leadership & College Experience Camp and Lexpecto Patronum — have organized a vigil for 8 p.m. Friday, July 12 at Robert f. Stephens Courthouse plaza called “Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Detention Camps,” to protest U.S. immigration detention centers. Dozens of cities across the country will host similar Lights for Liberty vigils.

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