Is San Angelo a Sanctuary City?
SAN ANGELO, TX — Friday afternoon, a male driver rammed a utility pole and fled the scene at 19th St. and Armstrong St. As the story unfolded, questions were raised as to whether or not the driver of the Chevy 1500 pickup was an illegal immigrant.
Several issues were raised in the story we reported yesterday. One was that the driver who crashed fled the scene of the crash.
One of the three citations the man was issued was “Failure to Stop and Give Information,” of FSGI, according to Texas Statutes. This is a lesser offense than “Failure to Stop and Render Aid,” or FSRA, which could be charged if the hit-and-run driver left the scene where other person was injured. This kind of crime can lead to a felony conviction, depending on the severity of the injuries.
Leaving the scene of an accident without leaving information where there are no injuries is only a class B misdemeanor, with a punishment of up to 180 days in jail and/or a $2,000 fine.
The man was also charged with failure to control speed and driving with no driver’s license. Neither of these are felonies, either.
The question as to whether or not San Angelo is a sanctuary city arose when we reported that after the driver was found, the driver admitted he ran because, he said, he was in the U.S. illegally.
Municipal police anywhere generally do not arrest a subject for being in the country illegally. It comes down to jurisdiction. The federal government is responsible for catching illegal immigrants.
According to a San Angelo Police Department spokesman, the department works closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection— commonly referred to as the Border Patrol— and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
In San Angelo, when a municipal police officer encounters someone who the officer believes is in the country illegally, that officer will notify Border Patrol before booking the subject into jail. Border Patrol has the option then to place a “hold”, commonly referred to as a Border Patrol hold or ICE hold, on that individual.
That way, if the magistrate judge on call at the time of the arrest rules the subject can post a bond to be released from jail right then and there on city, county or state charges, the subject will not be released until the Border Patrol or ICE handles the subject’s federal immigration case. For the county taxpayers, having the federal agencies make that call means that the federal government will reimburse the jail for every day that subject is held. Otherwise, if he was held in jail on City, County, or State charges, the local taxpayers foot the entire bill.
In the case of yesterday’s incident, none of the offenses the subject was charged with would have amounted to more than 30 minutes in jail before he would likely be released on a personal recognizance bond.
Taking the subject to jail was not a good use of police resources.
Furthermore, Border Patrol was contacted and the feds did not instruct the SAPD to place the subject on a “hold.” That was the federal government’s call. According to the officer at the scene, the Border Patrol could not confirm the subject was actually an illegal immigrant and the Border Patrol elected not to pursue federal charges.
Why was the subject not charged with evading arrest? Every incident police encounter requires trust in the officer’s judgment. In this case, Officer Welch made a decision to charge the suspect with FSGI, not evading on foot. The subject would not necessarily be evading arrest because running into a light pole by itself is not necessarily an offense demanding an immediate arrest.
In summary, the San Angelo Police Department requires their notification to federal authorities, then ICE or the Border Patrol’s request to act, in order to arrest a subject for being an illegal immigrant.
That didn’t happen in yesterday’s incident.
A sanctuary city is generally defined as a municipality that does not notify federal law enforcement agencies if a subject they are detaining is believed to be an illegal immigrant.
By the way, what is correct? Illegal immigrant or illegal alien?
Both are used to describe a subject in this country illegally. President Donald Trump used the term “alien” in his address to the nation on Jan. 8.
The curators of the AP Stylebook have struggled with the terminology for years. Right now, AP suggests “illegal immigrant” is the most descriptive. We have used both terms.