WASHINGTON - While announcing the arrest of a man suspected in the murder of a woman in D.C., Acting Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser held to their policy that the District would not enforce U.S. civil immigration laws.
Newsham, who announced the arrest of 28-year-old El Hadji Alpha Madiou Toure, a man suspected in the murder of Corrina Mehiel in a Northeast D.C. home last week, was asked about the suspect's immigration status at Tuesday's press conference.
"I think you know that the Metropolitan Police Department does not ask questions about immigration status," he said.
"It’s a long-standing policy of the Metropolitan Police Department not to enforce civil immigration law,” Newsham continued. “We believe that the enforcement of civil immigration laws creates a divide between us and the community we serve and at the end of the day we believe that will make our community less safe. As the Chief of Police, I don’t think I should be involved in any behavior that makes our city less safe.”
Newsham said that in a discussion with the U.S. Attorney General, major city police chiefs collectively expressed their view that civil immigration enforcement is not the role of major police departments.
“The District – we are not responsible for civil immigration enforcement, like the Chief said," Bowser stated. “Our job is to enforce the laws of the District of Columbia and we are not local I.C.E. officials.”
"We are not; however, a harbor for criminals – no matter where you’re from," she added. “The police department will deal with criminals – violators of the law. They will be charged, they will be prosecuted, and they will be held.”
"I don’t think our policies are in violation," Bowser said. “The Federal Government does not compel the District to do its job. And the Federal Government’s job is immigration enforcement.”
Last month, during an interview on FOX 5 Morning News, Newsham told us that D.C. Police would not enforce civil immigration laws. "When you're dealing with local crime in a big city like Washington, D.C., you really need to have the trust of your community. And to get local police involved in civil immigration enforcement is only going to draw a divide between you and the community," he said during that interview.
"The cornerstone to American policing is really trust, and I'm adamantly opposed to anything that's going to create distrust between us and anybody who lives or works or visits Washington, D.C.," he said.