The U.S. Justice Department is enlisting local and state law-enforcement officers to help enforce federal immigration laws. A regional immigrants’ rights group has joined a lawsuit challenging the use of local officers for federal enforcement, but Justice Department spokesman Jorge Martinez says it’s voluntary, and the local officers’ authority would only include a limited number of immigration violators. Martinez says it’d be names in the FBI’s National Crime Database for violating immigration laws, and who pose special risks like national security concerns) Some local cops said they’ll call Immigration if they learn of a violator in their jurisdiction but so far it’s not clear whether Nebraska officers like the proposal to work for the feds. Ed Leahy , director of Immigrants’ Rights Network of Iowa and Nebraska, says it would trash the delicate trust between law-enforcement and immigrant communities. He says if local police were authorized to question and “round up” immigrants, it would end any chance they’d report a crime, or call police when they’re victims or need other help. The Immigrant Rights Network of Iowa and Nebraska, and the American Civil Liberties Union are among members of a coalition challenging the Justice Department decision allowing the local forces to help enforce immigration law.
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