Las Cruces Sun-News - By James Staley - LAS CRUCES >> Holding large signs with messages predominantly in Spanish, dozens of people gathered Tuesday morning in front of the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office to protest an agency they say oversteps its law enforcement duties.
Officials from the Border Network for Human Rights organized Tuesday's demonstration because of "documented patterns of immigration enforcement during traffic stops," according to a news release from the organization.
As the demonstration came to a close, BNHR organizers delivered to DASO 10,876 signed copies of a petition urging Sheriff Todd Garrison to take four steps, which included instructing deputies to stop asking about immigration status or for Social Security numbers during routine traffic stops.
DASO spokeswoman Kelly Jameson said deputies don't ask such questions in those situations. "We don't act as federal immigration agents," Jameson said. "We uphold the laws we are sworn to enforce."
She said a person's immigration status "is none of our business," but that deputies do have to record traffic infractions, and that includes logging the identity of any person they pull over. So, they will ask for driver's licenses — which undocumented people can get in New Mexico — or other forms of ID to make sure the person has no warrants.
Jameson said if deputies have to call Border Patrol during a traffic stop, it's because there is an issue with immigration documentation. Deputies aren't trained, as Border Patrol agents are, to inspect such documents, she said.
But to many in the crowd Tuesday, deputies too often blur the line between local and federal law enforcement.Many signs referred to "polimigra," blending the Spanish words for police and immigration. More