Immigration law incidents dot police reports

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Several immigration law-related reports recently began appearing on the Pelham Police Department’s incident reports, after state agencies began enforcing the new law.

Through the law, officers across the state are required to verify with federal authorities a person’s immigration status if the person is stopped or questioned.

From Oct. 26-30, the department listed four counts of incidents related to the Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, commonly known as Alabama House Bill 56.

The first incident occurred at the intersection of Commerce Parkway and U.S. 31, the second was listed at the Pelham Mall on U.S. 31, the third was listed at the intersection of Weatherly Club Drive and Cove Lane and the fourth was listed in the parking lot of 9249 Helena Road.

Pelham Police Capt. Larry Palmer said none of the four incidents led to an arrest or deportation.

“I believe all of those suspects either came back negative, or the federal government was not able to verify the suspects were here illegally,” Palmer said.

He said the four incidents listed in the police reports occurred during routine traffic stops or other “legitimate police business.”

“If we are out performing our jobs, and during the course of legitimate police business probable cause arises that a person may not be here legally, we will verify their status with the federal government,” Palmer said. “We have a duty to uphold the law. If we don’t follow the new guidelines, we are breaking the law.

“We have a policy against racial profiling. That is against the law,” Palmer added. “We do not target anyone based on race, sex or national origin.”

Palmer said the department over the past several years has taken a “firm stand” on immigration and criminal activity.

He said the law has not changed the way the department operates, only the way it documents incidents. Under the new regulations, officers must list an incident as “Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act” whenever they verify a person’s immigration status.

“It’s not really that different from what we’ve been doing,” Palmer said. “Over the past several years, we have deported a lot of people because of criminal activity.

“Our goal is to stop criminal activity, no matter where a person is from,” Palmer added.