BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With President Donald Trump considering extending the power to enforce immigration law to local law enforcement agencies, Ryan Witmer, an immigration lawyer with Borowski Immigration Law, says he doesn't see a practical reason for the proposal.
"It's the federal government's responsibility to manage and enforce our immigration laws, not the state and local governments," said Witmer.
The biggest concern Witmer has, and one not disagreed upon by Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard, is that local officers might not receive proper training.
"Many local law enforcement officers, maybe all of them are capable of enforcing immigration laws, but that's not the area they've been trained and have expertise in the way that ICE does," said Witmer.
Howard says he's in favor of the idea, but again, only if the federal government provides the proper training. He says in years past, agencies like his office would have to call federal agents to confirm whether or not a suspect is in the country illegally. That process sometimes resulted with undocumented people going free.
"We would then wait for them to arrive to take custody of these individuals or make an arrest. Hopefully, we had reason to hold them until that time, otherwise we'd have to let them go and we have people in the country that shouldn't be," said Howard.
Witmer says constitutional violations and racial profiling can often happen when changes like these are implemented poorly. It's a point Howard doesn't take lightly.
"The philosophy of community policing is working with community leaders and recognizing there are differences in different communities, if it's racial, people with different customs, different beliefs so, to work with those community leaders would certainly be a part of this," said Howard.
Witmer believes resources for enforcing immigration policy are limited, and the focus should be on dangerous individuals, not just deporting as many people as possible.
"We need to make sure the people that are being arrested, detained and put into removal proceedings are the people that we should make enforcement priorities," said Witmer.
Howard, however, believes law enforcement can't be complacent when it comes to people entering the country illegally.
"By not doing anything to discourage, we are essentially doing something to encourage it," said Howard.