Does the Teton County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) enforce federal immigration laws?
Answer: No, the TCSO only enforces Wyoming State Statutes and occasionally Town of Jackson Municipal Codes.
If I am living in Teton County and I am undocumented, how can I best avoid being deported?
Answer: The simple answer is to avoid committing criminal offenses that would ultimately lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to investigate you. ICE has communicated to local law enforcement that they have no intentions of seeking out undocumented workers who are living a life free of criminal activity if they have not been deported before. Bottom line, stay out of trouble and obey the law and your odds of having an immigration officer contact you are minimal.
Does the TCSO communicate with the Federal Immigration-Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE)?
Answer: Yes, the TCSO has a good working relationship with ICE, who has promised to keep the TCSO informed of their operations when they are working in Teton County.
When does the TCSO call ICE related to immigration matters?
Answer: Generally the TCSO Detention Center will telephone ICE when local law enforcement has arrested and booked a person for violating a state statue and the person is foreign born.
Additionally, if ICE agents can be of assistance to TCSO investigators in locating a person that is suspected of committing a crime against the State of Wyoming and has fled the jurisdiction of Teton County, then we may seek the assistance of ICE in locating the person. Often ICE has investigative resources that can be of assistance to our investigators.
Who are the ICE agents that work in the Teton County area?
Answer: The Wyoming state field office is located at 150 East B Street Rm 1014 Casper Wyoming 82601 and has only a small number of federal agents who work out of that office. They are supervised by the Denver Regional ICE office located at 12484 East Weaver Place Centennial Colorado 80111. The Casper ICE agents are responsible for investigations involving immigration violations in Wyoming and southern Montana.
How often does ICE come to Teton County?
Answer: ICE agents do not come to Teton County on a set schedule, but rather come to Jackson as often as they need to in relation to the investigations they are conducting. The most common visit from ICE to Jackson is to do a routine transfer of an inmate in the Teton County Jail to the custody of ICE.
The second most common visit of ICE to Jackson is when they are here to arrest a handful of “targeted individuals” . These people typically have a warrant for their arrest. These operations are generally 1-3 days in duration and occur historically three to four times a year.
How does ICE decide who they will come and pick up (arrest) from the jail to start deportation proceedings?
Answer: ICE has communicated to local law enforcement that their primary focus is on undocumented individuals who commit crimes that are considered a safety concern for the community. These crimes are typically all felony crimes but can include driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Additionally, they generally will start deportation proceedings on people who have previously been deported and have returned to the United States.
UPDATE 9/5/17 – ICE has recently informed local law enforcement that they have made a change in their operational protocols and will now consider arresting individuals with no prior criminal history and no prior deportations. This means that if they encounter a person and during that encounter they determine the person is in violation of immigration laws, they may take that person into custody for those violations. Sheriff Whalen has informed ICE that people taken into custody for immigration violations (only) will not be booked or held at the Teton County Jail. ICE agents and ICE officials added that they have no intentions of doing mass round ups of undocumented persons in the Jackson area.
Does ICE deport people arrested for minor traffic offenses?
Answer: Usually no. Ice has communicated to local law enforcement that they do not have the resources to deport individuals for minor traffic violations, (e.g. speeding, no driver’s license, no insurance, running stop signs or traffic lights, equipment violations etc.) provided they are not habitual offenders of committing minor traffic offenses.
Do you know of any plans that ICE has to conduct “general round-ups” of undocumented persons?
Answer: ICE has communicated to local law enforcement that they have no intentions of performing a “general round-up” of undocumented people living in Teton County. Meaning, they do not intend to go around the community randomly looking for people who may be living here undocumented, and detain them to investigate their immigration status. The goal of ICE is to locate the “targeted” criminal alien and to take them into custody for removal through a deportation proceeding.
Will local law enforcement notify the community if they are aware that ICE is planning to come to Teton County to perform a search for “targeted” individuals?
Answer: Local law enforcement WILL NOT notify the public if ICE is coming to Jackson to arrest specific “targeted” individuals whom they have identified for arrest and deportation. Many of these individuals have criminal backgrounds and records that would create an officer safety concern for the ICE agents if they did not have the element of surprise. Nor would local law enforcement want to impede the ICE agents from being able to do their job of removing individuals from the community that pose a safety risk.
If ICE contacted local law enforcement and indicated they would be coming to Jackson to do a “general round-up” or a “door-to-door sweep” would local law enforcement notify the public?
Answer: Yes, though ICE has communicated that they have no intentions of doing an operation of this nature.
Does the TCSO intend to participate in the 287(g) program that allows local officers to enforce federal immigration laws?
Answer: No, the TCSO has no plans to participate in the 287(g) program. Additionally, we know of no Wyoming state law that allows for Wyoming peace officers to enforce federal immigration law.
Is there ever a time when a deputy sheriff would need to know my immigration status?
Answer: Typically no, but deputies sometimes will need to inquire if it is pertinent to their investigation. Deputies will not take someone into custody merely based upon them learning that someone is undocumented. One of the responsibilities of law enforcement when issuing a citation is to determine the identity of the person and to establish some reasonable assurance that they will show up to court if released with a citation. This is called a “flight-risk assessment”. Knowing a person’s identity is critical for the deputy to consider a citation instead of arrest and by you carrying identification can help the deputy be assured that you are who you say you are, live where you say you live, and you have ties to our community. These all indicate you would show up to court if given a citation. However, if you attempt to conceal your identity or mislead the deputy about who you are or where you live, you more than likely will be arrested and taken to jail. The bottom line is you should always be honest with the deputy about who you are and where you live so the deputy can allow you to leave with a citation instead of being arrested.
If I want further information about ICE and their local operations, who should I contact?
Answer: Local law enforcement can attempt to answer most of your questions, but we encourage you to contact ICE directly and ask them any information that you may be uncertain about. It is always best to get the information directly from the source, and ICE knows best what they intend to do or not do. ICE lists their Casper WY number as (307) 261-6590.