SOUTH HAVEN, Mich-- They're hot button issues across the country right now: deportation, immigration and who's allowed to stay in the U.S. The issues have been especially prevalent, following President Trump's executive order, which currently remains in legal limbo.
Now, one local police agency is discussing its stance on immigration enforcement with FOX 17 News.
Police Chief Natalie Thompson told FOX 17 there is currently a lot of concern and confusion in the South Haven area when it comes to people who aren't legal residents. In fact, she's been told some people are even afraid to call 911 for help, out of fear of punishment or deportation.
“Immigration status is nothing we’re concerned about,” says Thompson. “It is totally a federal enforcement matter and we don’t have the authority to look into investigations of that nature."
Thompson says it doesn't matter if it's a 911 call or a traffic stop, she wants people to know those with immigration concerns have nothing to worry about from her department.
“If there is this growing fear I would just like to come out with this information to reassure people. Because the last thing I would ever want is for somebody to not call the South Haven Police Department who was in need of help because they were in fear that one of our officers might ask about their immigration status,” said Thompson.
The stance from South Haven Police is already calming fears in the community.
“I can speak with the Hispanic people. And I can let them know so they don’t have to be afraid to go to the store or leave the house,” said Maria, who didn't want to give her last name.
Maria came to the United States 11 years ago and has a green card. She says she discussed those concerns with the South Haven Police Department on behalf of some of the illegal immigrants she knows in the area.
“That is our job to protect and serve everybody,” said Thompson.
Chief Thompson said she's open to the idea of hosting a town hall on this issue to address any further concerns.