Windsor police chief reassures community on immigration

Windsor Police Chief Carlos Basurto wants to reassure those who are here illegally that Windsor Police are not going to come after them, unless they are serious or violent criminals. As the grandson of undocumented immigrants, Basurto has a unique perspective...

Windsor police chief reassures community on immigration

Windsor Police Chief Carlos Basurto wants to reassure those who are here illegally that Windsor Police are not going to come after them, unless they are serious or violent criminals.

As the grandson of undocumented immigrants, Basurto has a unique perspective on President Trump’s hard stance on illegal immigration and the protests and anxiety they’ve engendered.

Basurto, the only Latino police chief among Sonoma County’s nine cities, also has in-laws who emigrated from Mexico in the 1960s to work in the pear orchards. Only much later did they become naturalized citizens.

“If you are an undocumented immigrant in the Town of Windsor, you do not need to fear the officers of the Windsor Police Department, nor assume that they have any reason to bother you, detain you, or arrest you for simply being undocumented. Your immigration status is completely irrelevant to us,” he said.

Basurto’s comments were delivered in a “letter to the community” in both English and Spanish posted this week on the town’s website, social media and printed in a local newspaper.

It comes as the Windsor Town Council plans to consider a resolution next week declaring the town “a united community that values its diversity and the contributions of all residents” and supports the safeguarding of the civil rights, safety and dignity of all residents.

The draft resolution reaffirms that town services, including public safety, will be provided without regard to immigration status.

President Trump has moved to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States and issued directives to speed up deportations and widen the pool of immigrants targeted for removal, regardless of whether they have committed serious crimes.

It’s prompted a growing number of communities, including cities and school districts in Sonoma County, to take stands against cooperating with federal authorities on deportation programs, or attempts to identify people who are simply in the country illegally.

Town Manager Linda Kelly is recommending against the council going further and declaring Windsor “a sanctuary city” because of Trump’s threat to cut off federal funds to municipalities that have designated themselves as such, including San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Richmond.

In general, she said, a sanctuary city is loosely defined as a community that does not use municipal funds or resources to enforce immigration laws and does not utilize immigration status to withhold services. Nor does it share a person’s status with immigration authorities.

The Windsor resolution and similar ones passed this week in Sonoma, Sebastopol and Healdsburg embrace those precepts without invoking the term “sanctuary.”

Chief Basurto’s three-page letter to the community emphasizes that Windsor Police won’t engage in federal immigration enforcement activities. “It is not our job or mission,” he stated.

But he makes an exception for serious or violent criminals.

Basurto said the department will work cooperatively with Immigration and Customs Enforcement or any other federal agency to apprehend those individuals.

The police chief said most, if not all, who cross the border to work the fields and ranches of California — such as his grandparents — are “good, decent, hardworking people” who do it for little pay, in hopes of a better life.

He said that when he was in junior high school, his parents made him and his brother work in the prune orchards to earn money for school clothes, and it gave him an appreciation for the hard jobs that undocumented workers do.

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