The Mix

Police say No to the Feds

Undocumented immigrants are finding unexpected support from police chiefs, mayors, and city councils.
U.S. Customs and Immigration has been travelling the U.S., asking local police departments to do the Feds' job and track down undocumented workers. But police, mayors, and city councils of some of the counrty's biggest cities are saying no. In fact, a national group representing 57 big-city police chiefs warned this month that local enforcement of federal immigration laws would "undermine trust and cooperation" among immigrants.
Perhaps they're remembering that their mandate is to help stop actual crimes in process and help the community instead of harassing people who may be victims of violent crimes.

According to a front page USA Today story, Police chiefs, mayors and city councils are ordering local cops not to get involved in the federal crack down.

"Vulnerable people have always needed to see the police as being there to protect and serve, and that can't happen when the first words out of a cop's mouth are, 'I need to see your papers,' " Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said.

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt also had some words of common sense: "We have spent many years ... getting special communities to talk to us, to report crime, to be witnesses. If we stop individuals (to ask about immigration status), we would lose all of that."

Mayor Rybak also asked federal agents to stop wearing vests labeled "police." The agents have not altered their wardrobes. And the Minneapolis City Council voted in 2003 to prevent police from asking about immigration status or enforcing immigration laws. Chicago passed a similiar resoultion this year.

Of course, some police chiefs have been only too happy to help in the crack down. Leading the charge are th state police in Alabama and Florida, the Arizona corrections department (thanks to the very scary Sherrif Arpaio) and sheriff's departments in San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Riverside counties in California and Mecklenburg County, N.C.
Rachel Neumann is Rights & Liberties Editor at AlterNet.
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