New York police officers are taking lax immigration enforcement to a whole new level by participating in soccer teams with undocumented immigrants.
The New York Police Department, according to Spectrum News on Thursday, saw the move as a way to enhance trust between officers and communities and make undocumented immigrants feel comfortable reporting crimes to authorities.
Both Staten Island’s second-highest ranking police officer and immigration advocates reportedly came up with the idea, which immigrants and police officers hoped would result in eight teams in total. The teams would reportedly compete in an all-day tournament next month.
“We don’t ask questions. You know, you could be a full-fledged citizen or just crossed the border — it doesn’t matter,” Detective Thomas Delacey said.
Watch video of the players below:
He added, in an apparent message to immigrants, “We want to know you, and we want you to feel comfortable to come to us.”
“When it comes to playing soccer,” Cesar Vargas, New York’s first immigrant to practice law without legal status, said, “it’s much more receptive, and people want to come with their families, want to come with their friends.”
“I think it’s very good to get a relationship with them. It’s nothing to be afraid of,” another player said.
The news came amid a broader debate about immigration enforcement in the United States where President Donald Trump pushed for tougher enforcement and some jurisdictions enacted so-called “sanctuary” policies limiting law enforcement’s cooperation with federal authorities.
The Justice Department, for example, sued California last month over three laws, which it said weakened immigration enforcement.