Members of the Northampton Police Department (NPD) recognize that undocumented citizens may be concerned about interacting with members of our agency because of fear of deportation. The enforcement of federal immigration laws is the duty of the United States Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Northampton Police Department does not have the authority to enforce federal immigration laws. Northampton Police Officers do not ask about the immigration status of crime victims, witnesses, or others who request our assistance. We do not use the threat of deportation as leverage with victims, witnesses or suspects.
In 2011 our Chief of Police worked with advocates to develop “A Resolution of the Northampton City Council on the Secure Communities Program.” The resolution passed the City Council vote unanimously. That measure directed City employees, including police, to exercise legal discretion and to refrain from participating in the federal Secure Communities Program that asks law enforcement agencies to identify and report immigrants to ICE.
In 2014 Mayor David Narkewicz further affirmed this practice by signing an executive policy order prohibiting City police from turning immigrants over to ICE, unless they were involved in criminal activity. It states:
"It shall be the continuing policy of the City of Northampton to assure equal, just, and fair treatment of all persons who live in and visit the city and, in furtherance of that policy, the Chief of Police shall develop formal departmental policies and procedures implementing the following:
1. Directing Northampton Police Department personnel to not honor or enforce any detainer request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that is non-criminal and not subject to a judicially issued warrant.
2. Directing Northampton Police Department personnel to allow motor vehicle operators stopped for a violation and found to be unlicensed a reasonable opportunity to arrange for a properly licensed operator to drive the vehicle, regardless of immigration status. Nothing in such policy shall apply to violations that are subject to a statutory or regulatory requirement of vehicle impoundment.
3. Continuing and enhancing existing programs and procedures of the Northampton Police Department to allow access by immigrants to police services in their native languages.
4. Providing for record keeping with regard to the policies set forth herein which can be made available to the Mayor upon request."
Our arrest policy regarding immigration detainers is as follows: “A non-criminal immigration detainer (Form I-247 Request) is not an arrest warrant, nor does it provide probable cause for an arrest. The Northampton Police Department does not honor or enforce detainer requests from ICE that are non-criminal in nature.”
Assistance with Acquiring a U or T Visa
Members of the immigrant community may feel apprehensive about reporting crimes that they were the victims of or that they witnessed for fear of deportation. This is especially concerning when people have been the victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or other serious felonies. In order to best support victims of crime and to encourage police reporting, our department participates in the U or T visa program. This federally developed program was introduced in 2000 and allows immigrants to apply for a temporary visa that allows them to legally remain in the country. Four members of NPD are designated as certifiers as part of this program. When appropriate, they can assist immigrant victims of crime in the application process. The U or T visa certification must affirm the immigrant victim’s past, present, or future helpfulness in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of certain qualifying criminal activity. The Chief of Police of the Northampton Police Department, and her designees, may, under very strict U or T visa guidelines and after consultation with the District Attorney’s Office, certify as part of a U visa application an immigrant victim’s cooperation with the Northampton Police Department. Law enforcement officials who sign certifications do not confer any immigration status upon the victim. Instead, they enable the victim to meet one of the eligibility requirements in the application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Only DHS has the discretion to grant or deny these temporary visas. For more information on U or T visa certification, go to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services U-Visa link.