Monday, July 13, 2009

Turning local police into immigration enforcers

An editorial in today's New York Times opposes the policies announced by the Department of Homeland Security last week "expanding its 287(g) program, which enlists local law-enforcement agencies to hunt illegal immigrants.

...many responsible police chiefs and sheriffs have stoutly opposed having immigration duties outsourced to them. The Police Foundation, a nonprofit research group, declared in a study in April that the costs of 287(g) outweigh the benefits, not just because it strains budgets, but also because it undermines community policing, which relies heavily on building trust among those the officers serve and protect.

Turning local cops into immigration enforcers makes racial profiling more likely while sending a chill through immigrant neighborhoods, where victims fear and avoid the police and crimes go unsolved for lack of witnesses. As a police chief in the report said: “How can you police a community that will not talk to you?”

Read the entire editorial.

This is a concern that some immigrant advocacy groups in the Illinois Quad Cities have been expressing in informal dialog with city officials and police. There has been an apparent upsurge of local cases in which immigrants have been arrested and taken to jail for traffic offenses, such as driving without a license, which in the past would have resulted in only a ticket and court summons. Then instead of being released after serving their time they have been held indefinitely for I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) as felons because of technicalities such as 3 misdomenors (even minor traffic offenses committed while driving to and from work) are a felony or using a false papers to get a job is felony identity theft even though the person whose identity has been "stolen" has not been negatively impacted whatsoever.

The New York Times is absolutely right about this. Turning local police into immigration agents is a bad idea.

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