South Haven Police: We are not interested in immigration status

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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.


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  • Chris

    South Haven is like don’t put us in the position to tell these nice people they can’t stay. We have an illegal American employer problem not illegal worker problem.

    • Michelle

      That web site for crime data is not correct. All crime stats are reported to the State of Michigan. Look there for the correct stats.

    • Michael

      The news is trying to make this political when it isn’t.

      The fact of the matter is that local law enforcement isn’t tasked with investigating/deporting illegal immigrants. They enforce local laws and state statutes. They aren’t taking a stance against the federal law- they just have no ability to enforce it.

      What South Haven is essentially saying is, “if you need help don’t be afraid to call 911 because we can’t do anything about you being an illegal immigrant.”

    • Michael

      Although it is ironic you mention that funding should be cut until they enforce the law as written. That’s exactly what police departments are doing with the marijuana law and are constantly getting nothing but flak from the public for doing it!

  • KTT

    What other crimes are the South Haven police not concerned about? As long as they’re picking and choosing which laws to enforce, there are a lot of criminals other than illegal aliens that would like to know.

  • J.B.

    Funny how none of these municipality’s are interested in enforcing federal law…
    But they sure are interested in getting federal money.
    Kind of a double standard dont you think? your job is to enforce the law..
    Not to pick and choose which ones you like or do not.
    As a citizen of the USA and Michigan and Van-Buren county, do not have that option.
    I am obligated to follow Federal,State AND local laws…no choice for me!
    The law is the law…and is supposed to cover all of us equally…
    This means an ILLEGAL alien is a CRIMINAL by definition and the LAWS can and do apply.
    Regardless of how you “feel” about it…

    • J.B.

      So does this mean i can just commit as many federal crimes as i please, and if i live in South Haven Michigan,
      Then i do not have to worry about the local law enforcement doing anything about it?
      Because here is the chief of police of south haven saying “my job isnt about enforcing federal law!”
      so all of these joint local/federal operations and investigations and all of that nice grant money should be denied and returned right?
      And everyone who is wanted for committing federal crimes now no longer have to worry about getting picked up by local law enforcement, right?……..
      What a bunch of total BS.

  • jeff

    So the Police now get to decide what laws are enforced and not enforced? Why do we make laws if they are not going to be enforced?

  • steve

    Murder, as a rule, isn’t a federal offense. It’s a state offense. Therefore, if a federal law enforcement officer, using the chief’s logic, witnesses a murder, he shouldn’t do anything. If I were a resident of South Haven, I’d start a petition to have her removed.

  • Leah

    For the people commenting that don’t know this, local law enforcement cannot enforce immigration law. That is why she’s saying that they don’t have to be scared to call for help. Trump wants to deputize local law enforcement to be able to do it, but as of now, they cannot. Please learn just a little before posting ignorant remarks. She knows her place, learn yours.

    • Bill

      From what I am understanding…..South Haven police won’t even report you to the PROPER authorities if you are an undocumented/illegal imigrant. Why would this community allow their tax dollars to be spent on protecting and serving illegal immigrants whom do not pay taxes? Tax dollars pay for the SHPD. If you are concerned about the protection and service of the illegal alien then start a private security department and use private funding to pay for it nut public fundings.