Pennsylvania’s state police force is reviewing its interactions with the federal immigration and customs enforcement, in the wake of a series of investigative reports questioning the legality of troopers using traffic stops to detain people in the country illegally.
It’s still not clear how law enforcement agency will change their procedures, or when.
An investigation by ProPublica and the Philadelphia Inquirer found the Philadelphia Immigration and Customs Enforcement office — which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia — arrests more undocumented immigrants without criminal convictions than any other ICE office in the country.
Unlike police in many other states, Pennsylvania state troopers don’t have official partnerships with ICE — nor do they have limits on questioning people about their legal status. It’s largely up to individual troopers to decide whether to question people about their immigration status or contact ICE agents.
J.J. Abbott, a spokesman for Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, said when he learned about the report, Wolf ordered the state police to conduct a review.
“They’re looking at having better systems to track the data of their interactions with different federal agencies, which is something that they currently do not have a great system for,” Abbott said.
He said new Acting Police Commissioner Robert Evanchick is “open” to a policy change, and studying how other states handle ICE interactions.
“The state police acknowledge that they could do a better job at having policies and procedures and systems in place for tracking this,” Abbott said.
Pennsylvania troopers quoted in ProPublica’s story said their practices haven’t necessarily changed since President Donald Trump took office, but under him, immigration agents are more willing to work with them.
A spokesman for state police didn’t return a request for comment.