Local law enforcement agrees with LIRS and our supporters that immigration enforcement should remain a federal priority and should not be handled at the state and local level. If local police cannot gain the trust of their communities because community members fear talking to them, we all are at risk. If people are victims or witnesses of a crime but don’t come forward, it makes the job of protecting communities harder for police.
A new report released by the Police Executive Research Forum, and picked up by The New York Times, clearly demonstrates that forcing local law enforcement to act as federal immigration agents undermines their ability to protect and serve their communities.
In the NYT article, a Maryland police chief clearly articulated the central conflict at the heart of the issue:
“I’m trying to avoid my police officers getting into the immigration enforcement business,” J. Thomas Manger, the police chief of Montgomery County, Md., said in an interview Thursday. “It’s counter to my mission,” said Chief Manger, one of the commanders whose role in an immigration debate was highlighted in the report.
He said one of his biggest efforts was to gain the trust of immigrant communities in the county. “If folks think for one second that if I report I was assaulted, the police will deport me, there will be an increase in unreported crime and people won’t testify,” he said.
Chief Manger said he would not advocate any policy that would lessen enforcement against immigrants who committed crimes. Montgomery County “is not a sanctuary jurisdiction by any means,” he said. “If there are criminal warrants, we lock them up as quick as we find them.”
We have been hearing several accounts of how members of the immigrant communities are afraid to report crimes and testify because they fear it will lead to their deportation. The government’s Secure Communities program is doing the opposite of what its hopeful name aims to achieve. It is, for example, scaring victims of domestic abuse and further marginalizing a population that is the most vulnerable to crime.
Join us in calling on local, state, and federal governments to reverse these counterproductive policies. Visit our Action Center and tell your elected officials that the police should be left to carry out their mission of protecting the people from dangerous criminals, and the government should fix the immigration system before more states start passing legislation like Arizona’s S.B. 1070.