San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez wants to make it clear to residents that his department will not enforce immigration laws, despite strict immigration regulations that have been implemented by Donald Trump.
“We are not going out there as San Juan Police officers and stopping people, and deporting people,” Gonzalez said. “That’s not our job and we are not doing it and we are not going to do it.”
At the city commission meeting Tuesday evening, Mayor San Juanita Sanchez addressed residents who fear the executive orders are being implemented by local law enforcement.
“We’ve got folks that are telling us, ‘We are scared, we are afraid, we don’t want to report anything for the fear of someone knocking at our doors,’ and so one of the things that I wanted to settle with the chief being present last night, was let them know our officers are doing the day-to-day patrol in our community,” Sanchez said.
Gonzalez told the city commission and residents present at the meeting that until he is formally notified by the government, his officers will not act as immigration officials.
“If there is any mandate, then we are going to abide by that mandate when it comes, but our main focus right now is to protect our communities and also protect our undocumented victims of crime,” said Gonzalez.
In February, Governor Greg Abbott officially cut off state funding for sanctuary cities, where local law enforcement or elected officials do not enforce immigration laws.
Although grant money is fundamental for the San Juan police department, Gonzalez said he is not concerned about Abbott’s threats because San Juan is not a sanctuary city.
“It’s important for us to continue receiving those funds, but also we want to make sure that we enforce the law and we stay within our parameters of our state jurisdiction and enforcing local crime law, not federal immigration law,” said Gonzalez.
This year San Juan PD received approximately $160,000 from state grants.
Sanchez encourages San Juan residents to continue with their daily routines without living in fear.
“No one is going to stop them and ask them for their identity just because,” Sanchez said. That’s not going to happen from our law enforcement.”