With high tension in immigrant communities, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office has extended an olive branch.
Sheriff Javier Salazar told a mostly Hispanic audience on Thursday that he has no interest in arresting undocumented immigrants or turning them over to immigration officials.
Speaking in Spanish, Salazar also had immigration lawyers present to instruct the crowd about what their rights are if they are arrested.
“I think the biggest tragedy of all is that someone could allow themselves to be continued to be victimized simply because they're afraid of being detained and deported,” Sheriff Salazar said.
He also made a big policy announcement: Bexar County deputies will no longer arrest undocumented immigrants just because they don't have an ID. Deputies will now accept alternative forms of ID, like a Mexican passport or driver's license issued from Mexican state or a Mexican ID.
“It's the same policy that SAPD has,” said Sheriff Salazar, a former SAPD officer. “Chief McManus has a similar policy. I helped craft it over there. I brought it here with me.”
Sheriff Salazar also said that his deputies won't participate in a federal program called 287-g, a law in which local law enforcement officers are trained in federal immigration law.