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Across the nation immigration policy and reform has constantly been a hot topic throughout the Obama administration. While there are federal laws in place state legislatures can create statutes so local law enforcement can assist federal agencies. News 13's Jeff Platt finds out what can be done in Wyoming when law officers encounter a potential illegal immigrant.
Natrona county commissioners are exploring ways to handle what some might consider a controversial issue, but right now immigration in Wyoming is uncharted waters
Immigration may be a concern for the us, but in Wyoming it could potentially be a greater issue because it can't be handled on the local level.
Forrest Chadwick, Natrona County Commissioners' Chairman said, "We don't have a policy specific to that persay."
The lack of any local statues regarding immigration means even high-ranking officers, like those at the Natrona County Sheriff's Department, can really only make a phone call when faced with a possible undocumented immigrant.
Lt. Mark Sellers, of the Natrona County Sheriff's Department, said, "We don't personally enforce that. If our patrol deputies or any of the deputies come across someone they suspect is an illegal immigrant, they would contact ICE; Immigration & Customs Enforcement."
And while Natrona County Commissioners are looking into the issue, they aren't exactly in a hurry.
Chadwick said, "It hasn't come to us as yet. It's not an issue of immediate urgency."
But for the county to really do anything, something needs to happen at the state level to give separate counties unified guidance.
Chadwick said, "We would hope that it would come at the state level first. We would see it there, and then the Governor would let us know and we can work out a solution."
And until such action is taken by Wyoming's legislators, throughout the state local law enforcement officers say their hands are tied.
Sellers said, "We can not enforce federal law. That's why there is federal agencies. We enforce out state statutes, and if legislature so choose and put something in there then yes we would have to enforce that under state statute."
Sellers says if you suspect someone to be an illegal immigrant don't call the Sheriff's Office, call US Immigration and Customs Enforcement as they have jurisdiction.