|September 2011 article from Assistant Chief Chen|
1. Is it true that immigrants should now be afraid of reporting any crimes to HPD because if they do, they may be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)?
No. We hope and encourage immigrant communities to continue to call us when they need assistance from the police. Immigrants who are victims of crime or have information regarding criminal activity should contact the police. They should not fear that HPD will call federal immigration agents on them. HPD will contact ICE when the person is confirmed to have a deportation warrant or a notice that they are a previously deported felon.
2. Will HPD officers detain me simply because they think I am here illegally?
No. HPD officers are not authorized to arrest or detain a person solely on a belief that the person is in the country illegally. Officers are authorized to arrest and detain persons they have reasonable basis to believe have committed a criminal violation.
3. Is it true that HPD officers are going to ask all people they encounter for proof of legal residence/status?
No. Once a person has been arrested and taken to a jail facility, HPD jail personnel will then ask the person for his/her legal status. Jail personnel will ask the arrested person if they are a citizen of the United States or if they were born in the U.S.
4. Is it true that HPD will arrest any foreign person?
No. Officers are not authorized to detain or arrest a person solely on the basis of their nationality or ethnicity. Officers are authorized to arrest and detain persons they have a reasonable basis to believe have committed a criminal violation.
5. Is it true that HPD will run a background check on all people they encounter?
No. Officers will check the wanted status of all persons who are ticketed, arrested, or who have been jailed. Officers also have the discretion to check the wanted status of all persons they have legally detained.
6. Is it true that HPD will call ICE on all people they encounter?
No. ICE will be contacted if during a check of their wanted status, the person is confirmed to have a deportation warrant or a notice that they are a previously deported felon or have other criminal warrants issued by ICE.
7. If I am arrested or taken to jail by HPD, will ICE be called?
HPD will contact ICE when a person is arrested and taken to jail and the person is confirmed to have a deportation warrant, a notice that they are a previously deported felon or any other criminal warrant with ICE. ICE officials will be allowed full access to HPD jail facilities.
8. If I am driving without a license and get stopped by HPD, will I get arrested? Will ICE be called?
If a person drives without a license and is stopped by HPD, that person will be asked to provide valid identification. If the person cannot provide valid identification and the HPD officer cannot verify their identity, the person will be taken to jail for driving without a license so the person can be positively identified and fingerprinted. ICE will be contacted only if the person is confirmed to have a deportation warrant, a notice that they are a previously deported felon or any other criminal warrant with ICE.
9. What forms of identification will HPD officers accept?
Officers will accept driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by any state of the United States of America. Also, the officers will accept most other forms of government ID like a military ID, passport, etc. Additionally, officers are advised that a matricula consular card issued by the Mexican government is presumed valid unless the totality of the circumstances calls the validity of the card into question.
10. If I am a suspect in a crime or the HPD officer believes that I may be involved in a criminal episode, can he/she ask me for identification?
Yes. The officer is authorized to ask a person who the officer has a reasonable basis to believe has committed or was involved in a criminal episode for identification.
11. If I do not have identification, can I be arrested?
No. Not unless you have been suspected of committing a crime. If you have committed a crime or a traffic violation and cannot provide identification to the officer and the officer cannot verify your identity, the officer has the authority to take you into custody for the criminal violation so you can be identified and fingerprinted by AFIS (Automated Fingerprinting Identification System). For safety reasons, the HPD officer needs to know whom he/she is dealing with at the time.
12. If the officer stops me for a minor traffic violation, will I be arrested?
An officer has the discretion to arrest you if the officers can not verify your identity. You will be arrested if it is confirmed that you have an NCIC and/or SETCIC warrant hit. Officers will check the wanted status of all persons arrested, ticketed or jailed. Officers have the discretion to check the wanted status of anyone legally detained, including persons detained on minor traffic violations.