Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Stumbo Issues Immigration Law Alert

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, June 26, 2007  
Contact Information:  Vicki Glass, 502-696-5643 Office  

Attorney General Greg Stumbo today issued to prosecutors and law enforcement across the state a “Law Advisory Regarding Immigration.” The advisory provides essential information for spotting and handling immigration issues.

Click here to read the advisory (240kb PDF).

“My office receives questions every week regarding Kentucky law and how it relates to our immigrant community,” said Attorney General Stumbo. “Judges inquire about bail for foreign nationals charged with crimes. Law enforcement officers often have questions about arrest of foreign nationals who may have violated state law. Human rights groups aiding immigrants call with concerns about victimization of immigrants in our communities.”

Stumbo continued, “With the debate and gridlock going on in Washington over immigration policy, Kentucky’s state and local law enforcement officers and the Commonwealth’s prosecutors are caught in the middle. For that reason, I am issuing a statement of the law to address pressing immigration issues, so that our legal system is not left in the dark while the public debate continues.”

The guidelines set out in the Law Enforcement Advisory fall into four categories:

  1. Arrests of Foreign-Nationals: Provides clarification of federal law authorizing arrest of a foreign national where violation of state or local law is established, and the foreign national has been deported or left the U.S. after a previous felony conviction, and the foreign national is confirmed to have an illegal status. The advisory also identifies federal resources available to state and local law enforcement in need of assistance:
    • Automated Status Check: The officer should contact NLETS (the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System) to conduct an immediate search of federal databases to determine the status of the arrested person. This will determine whether or not the individual is in the country legally. All Kentucky officers can access the national system through the computer in their patrol car.
    • ICE Contact: If the individual has an illegal status, the officer should contact the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field office in their area. (The advisory provides a list of ICE offices in Kentucky.)
    • Consular Notification: Law enforcement officers must remember that no matter what the resident status, all foreign nationals must be advised of their right to have their consulate notified. (The advisory provides a notification statement that may be read by the officer or given to the arrested person.)
  2. Federal Detainers: Local and state law enforcement should notify the appropriate field office of ICE in the case of an illegal foreign national who has been arrested on a state charge. Only ICE has requisite federal authority to file an immigration detainer. Under federal law, only the U.S. Attorney General has the discretion to detain a foreign national pending decision regarding deportation.
  3. Bail: Everyone in Kentucky who is arrested has a right to bail, unless charged with a death penalty offense.
  4. Interpreters: Any arrested individual who cannot speak English has a right to an interpreter.

In the law advisory regarding immigration, Attorney General Stumbo also discusses common crimes against Kentucky’s immigrant community. “Certain crimes and predatory practices target our immigrant population,” said Attorney General Stumbo. “Immigrants who confront cultural and language differences are often unfamiliar with local law and may be reluctant to report a crime for fear of deportation. As a result, many immigrants are particularly vulnerable to predatory practices, criminal discrimination, fraud and abuse.”

Examples provided in the law advisory include:

  1. “Notorio” Fraud – In Spanish, “notorio” means “qualified legal expert.” Many immigrants assume “notorio” and “notary public” are the same. When immigrant are seeking temporary workers status, for example, they should be wary of persons who use their title of “notary public” to attempt to help them when they likely lack the necessary training to provide legitimate immigration assistance.
  2. Human Trafficking – This form of modern-day slavery can include forced labor, domestic servitude or exploitation within the illegal sex trade. This year the General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 43, effective today (June 26, 2007.) It provides severe criminal penalties for human trafficking. Stumbo encourages local law enforcement to be aware that SB 43 guarantees the following protections for victims of human trafficking:
    • Freedom from Incarceration
    • Right to Victims Counseling
    • Right to an Interpreter

“Today’s Law Advisory is a first step to ensure enforcement of this important new law,” Stumbo added.

The Attorney General seeks to aid Kentucky law enforcement by providing them with the tools they require to work with the Commonwealth’s diverse population. “It is my sincere hope that his Law Advisory will also help immigrants in our communities who have been vulnerable to predatory practices and discrimination.”

The Advisory provides phone numbers for state and federal immigration offices that can provide information and support services.