SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The city of Tijuana is reminding its own police force and other law enforcement in the state that they can’t turn migrants over to immigration officials for the purpose of apprehension or detention.
Enrique Lucero, Tijuana’s director of Migrant Affairs spoke with reporters on Wednesday to discuss Mexican federal law pertaining to immigrants’ rights when stopped by local and state police.
“We have not gotten any complaints from migrants or local residents about this, but it’s good to remind people about what the law says,” he said.
Lucero emphasized that the role of the police department is to provide support and protection for migrants and to guide them to city or state services and support agencies.
“In terms of children or unaccompanied minors, officers are to take them to our offices, or in cases like the migrant campsite at the border from a few years ago, officers must protect and provide safety for the children,” he said. “There’s no instance where a migrant is to be turned over to the National Institute of Migration.”
Lucero said there are legal pathways for migrants to pursue if they feel a public safety agency is responsible for their detention at an immigration facility.
“If a municipal or state police officer was involved, it’s important to file a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission; it’s important to document these cases,” said Lucero. “Our work with the city is not just about protecting the community, but migrants as well. We want to make sure our police officers are doing work to affirm our city doesn’t discriminate against anyone.”
Considering that some police officers “did not behave the way they are supposed to” when migrant caravans arrived in 2018 and 2019, Lucero stated he can understand why some migrants might not believe the city has their best intentions in mind.
“On behalf of the mayor, I want to emphasize that we welcome anyone to our city,” he said.