LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Little Rock's mayor and Police Chief said the legal status of its residents is not their focus, after immigration raids pop up across the country.
Mayor Mark Stodola emailed residents this week, telling them the city "welcomes rich racial, religious, and ethnic diversity." This comes after 678 people we rounded up in 12 states during raids over the last week.
"There have been reports nationally about people being rounded up around the country and I received some phone calls that some people were worried to go outdoors. They were concerned they would be stopped, and questioned, and things of that nature”, Mayor Stodola said, adding that while Little Rock is not a sanctuary city; for City Employees, including police, immigration status is not their focus.
"Our officers are concerned about public safety, the issue of people committing crimes, and solving those crimes. So we need the assistance of all of our people, whether they are here documented or undocumented. That's why I issued it," said Mayor Stodola.
He said Little Rock Police Officers find themselves in migrant communities often. He wants them to feel safe around police, and help them solve crimes in their communities.
"We all agree that we need to protect our borders, but we need to be compassionate and show some sense of humanity. Our agency values all of our residents: documented and undocumented. If you haven't committed some sort of crime, the Little Rock Police Department has no record of asking for individuals to be deported. We will continue that practice unless someone forces us to do otherwise,” Chief Buckner agreed.
Mosaic Church has been helping undocumented immigrants get their papers for more than fifteen years. Pastor, Mark DeYmaz said some of his church members, and those who need his services most, to become legal, are afraid to even leave the house.
“There's a very real fear in the immigrant and refugee community that by congregating in places like a church, like Mosaic, in large groups, this could be leveraged by federal government to take large groups of people in to custody, or certainly to vet them as it were” DeYmaz said.
If people are arrested for committing a crime and then are found to be undocumented, they will be turned over to federal authorities. Mayor Stodola said, while police won't be out looking for undocumented immigrants, that doesn't mean that ICE won't. Pastor DeYmaz encourages anyone that is undocumented to reach out to Mosaic Church for assistance in getting legal status.