comments_image Comments

Cops Critical of 'Law and Order' Immigration Policies

In Arizona and Texas, policies popular with the anti-immigration wing of the GOP are running into sharp criticism from a group of experts who know a thing or two about law and order: cops. Russell Pearce, the head Republican restrictionist in the Arizona Senate is pimping bills to allow everyone to sue public officials who don't report immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally to federal authorities. According to the Arizona Capitol Times, the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police aren't too happy:
John Thomas, a lobbyist for the Association of Chiefs of Police, said rural communities would be harmed disproportionately if residents are allowed to file lawsuits against cities or counties that do not enforce of federal immigration law. Many of those communities are small and do not have the ability to defend the suits, much less pay court costs and hefty fines if they lose. They may not have an attorney,” he said. “They barely have (enough) police.” He suggested changing the bill to allow such suits to only be filed by county attorneys or the attorney general.
[The always entertaining Phoenix New Times takes an even harsher look at Pearce's actions here]. Over in Houston, a new policy in the jails to report suspected undocumented immigrants to federal authorities is also running afoul of the local constabulary.  Since the new policy was announced, Houston PD have had a harder time getting witnesses and victims of crime to come forward and work with them to get bad guys off the streets. The Houston Chronicle reported:
HPD officials do not track crime reported by illegal immigrants, but Acting Chief Charles McClelland said that, anecdotally, he has heard of cases involving victims who come forward only after being repeatedly victimized, and then report the crimes only after someone reassures them that their immigration status won't become an issue in the investigation. HPD officials say they have met with leaders in Houston's immigrant communities and have launched public outreach campaigns aimed at explaining the agency's policy — namely that officers and detectives do not report the immigration status of witnesses and victims to ICE agents. HPD also is considering a more coordinated public information campaign targeting foreign-language media, Assistant Chief Dan Perales said.
So the side of the immigration debate that likes to wrap itself in the cloak of law and order is pursuing policies that ACTUAL law and order professionals find troubling. It's another example of the policy and political knots we tie ourselves into because we have failed to address immigration reform head on.