Preview: Immigration Forum

A look ahead at an open discussion about how law enforcement handles undocumented immigrants at the local level.

Posted: Jul 24, 2018 7:38 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - It's a hot topic in national headlines and here in Rochester...immigration. 

On Tuesday, the group Communities United for Rochester Empowerment is hosting an immigration forum with Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson and Rochester Interim Police Chief John Sherwin. 

This comes after CURE protested the Sheriff Torgerson on June 1 and presented him with a letter asking for change. The group claims the sheriff's office is unfairly working with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. 

CURE organizer Che Lopez said this hurts the public safety since undocumented people who witness crimes will be in fear of being turned over to ICE. 

"It threatens and jeopardizes public safety because people aren't going to want to report crimes," he said. 

Sheriff Torgerson said his concern is public safety. 

"We're told they're afraid to come forward, because they're afraid we'll turn them over to ICE. That's not the case, that's never been the case," he said. 

Despite different understandings heading into the forum, all have similar hopes the forum will bring transparency and trust between law enforcement and community members. 

"An important distinction to make is that we aren't immigration agents, we don't enforcement federal law. We're local law enforcement and our focus is safety within our community." Interim Chief Sherwin said. 

"To build trust within the immigrant community here in rochester, to make public safety the real issue here," Lopez said. 

"Our number one goal here is public safety, we want people to be safe regardless of where they come from or who they are. My biggest hope is that we can stop the fear, work with us and we can move forward," Sheriff Torgerson said. 

The immigration forum is happening at RCTC's Coffman Center, Room 206. It starts at 6:30pm. 

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