SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (ABC 4 News) - On Wednesday, Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder delivered a forceful message, saying that recent executive orders on immigration have caused fear in the community.
"I've had people come and they've called and said, look - am I going to be removed from my family? Am I going to be arrested -- or, am I at risk? Fear is becoming prevalent, and it's becoming real," said Winder.
Winder says he wants folks in the community to know that there is no reason to fear. The executive orders issued by President Trump, he says, do not mean that local law enforcement officers are now immigration officers.
"They cannot tell local law enforcement officers to enforce immigration," said Winder.
He added that the only way a person would meet an ICE agent is if they're booked into the Salt Lake County Jail.
Otherwise, he says, there is no law -- including the president's recent executive orders -- that would allow a police officer stopping you on the street to get you deported.
"Both Arizona and Utah passed laws at the state level. Both were repealed. They do not exist. In the state of Utah, state officers cannot enforce immigration under current statutes," said Winder.
It's a message Winder reinforced throughout a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
And it's one the Latino community, in particular, is listening to closely.
Archie Archuleta is a Latino activist and says there is "palpable fear" right now that deportation forces will split apart families.
"Almost the same fear that infected Jews in Nazi Germany," said Archuleta.
"If father is picked up as he goes to work, mother may be picked up at home. What happens when the children comes home. Who will feed them? Who will clothe them? Who will give them hope? And this is the big fear of families," added Archuleta.
Archuleta says the sheriff's words are "helpful."
"It lessens the amount of fear, and tension," he said.
On Wednesday, Sheriff Winder also noted that there has been lots of talk about sanctuary cities -- since one of President Trump's executive orders targets sanctuary cities and threatens to pull federal funds from those municipalities.
But Winder says no such cities--which say they will protect their citizens from deportation--exist in Utah.
He says if you end up in the county jail and you weren't born in the United States, the policy has always been to contact ICE and let them know.
That policy won't change, he says.
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