Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known as ICE, has changed one of their major protocols when it comes to making arrests—they will now consider arresting anyone they encounter who is undocumented, even if they have no criminal history or prior deportations.
Previously, ICE’s arrest policy was only to arrest prior deportees or undocumented residents with criminal histories, specifically those with felonies. However, Teton County Sheriff Jim Whalen said, about a month ago, the federal agency told his office if they encounter someone in violation of immigration laws, they may take the individual into custody on those charges alone.
Whalen said ICE has not given him any reason to believe this will lead to targeting or future raids.
“The efforts that ICE would have to make in order to conduct a raid in our community would be almost monumental in terms of having to drive buses here, and I trust that they have no plans—they tell us they have no plans to have raids here—and I trust that,” said Whalen.
Whalen said emotions are running high in Teton County right now, and he hopes that a public meeting Thursday night will help ease those concerns.
“ICE is somewhat reluctant to come to communities and explain their own positions, so it leaves local law enforcement in that position to do it, that’s unfortunate in my opinion,” said Whalen. “But it’s important for our communities to know what’s going on.”
Teton County law enforcement along with local immigration attorneys in Jackson will present at the meeting to help explain what the policy changes will mean. The meeting will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at St John’s Episcopal Church.