Craig: No immigration checks at Cinco de Mayo parade

The Detroit News

Detroit Police Chief James Craig, in an effort to allay concerns circulating in the city’s immigrant communities, said his department does not stop people to check immigration status and will not conduct sweeps during the Cinco de Mayo parade next month.

“What the Detroit Police Department will not do is stop people and check whether they’re legally documented or not. That’s not what we do,” Craig said during an address at a regional conference of the Society of Professional Journalists at the Hotel St. Regis in New Center.

The chief said that in a meeting last week with officials of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency made clear they do not want local law enforcement agencies engaging in immigration work.

“We’re not trained to do it, and frankly I don’t want to do it,” Craig said. “I’ve got enough to do with the challenges that we’re dealing with every day.”

Craig noted that it was ICE and other federal agencies that conducted a raid of an alleged cockfighting ring and illegal gambling in southwest Detroit on March 18. About 50 people picked up in the raid face deportation hearings.

About 100 birds were rescued during the raid on the 1200 block of Green, near Interstate 75 and Springwells, ICE officials said.

The chief also said that he “gave assurances to the community” last week during a Metro Detroit visit by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly that Detroit police would not conduct immigration work at city’s Cinco de Mayo parade.

“We’re not going to do any sweeps or immigration work during that festival,” he said.

Kelly visited Detroit on March 27 to allay fears from local Hispanics and Muslims about President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Detroit City Council member Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, whose District 6 includes southwest Detroit where the festivities are held, said while she knows the Detroit police does not conduct immigration efforts during the festival or any other time, she said Craig has told her that Homeland Security and ICE will not be targeting the festival.

“In general, there’s been high anxiety and fear in the community since Trump announced his executive orders. People are anxious and afraid of going to the store, taking their child to school, going to work,” Castaneda-Lopez said on Sunday.

Casteneda-Lopez said the “bigger challenge and concern” is whether the Michigan State Police, other police agencies or municipalities may be targeting the event.