Thursday, July 2, 2009

Police Chiefs: Overhaul Immigration Policy

Chief John Timoney of Miami

Seeking to inject their views into the revived debate over immigration overhaul, several big-city police chiefs urged Congress on Wednesday to draft a new policy that improves public safety by bringing illegal immigrants out of the shadows.


The chiefs — updating recommendations made in 2006 by the leaders of more than 50 urban police departments — called for an overhaul that would integrate immigrants into the legal system, possibly with driver’s licenses, and separate the local police from immigration enforcement.
Have the federal government accept responsibility for a national policy?

Chief Timoney, Chief Art Acevedo of the Austin Police Department in Texas and former Chief Art Venegas of the Sacramento Police Department said local law enforcement had been undermined by the blurred line between crimes and violations of immigration law, which are civil.
Congress has avoided dealing with the issue, and by doing so they have shifted the burden to local law enforcement, including the costs.
Those who call illegal immigrants “criminals,” they said at a news conference here, are misreading the law and hurting their own communities by scaring neighbors who could identify criminals. “When you remove the emotion from the debate,” Chief Acevedo said, "no one can argue that it is in the best interest of public safety to keep these people living in the shadows.”

Emotion is what mucks everything up.

They said they favored tough border enforcement and efforts to prosecute employers who rely on illegal foreign-born workers. But they insisted that local law enforcement be kept apart from immigration enforcement because such agencies lacked the training and time, especially with recent budget cuts.

Another efect of the economic slowdown.

Jessica M. Vaughan, a senior policy analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors tougher immigration enforcement, said the chiefs were misguided.

The motto of the organization? Pro-immigrant, low-immigration think-tank which seeks fewer immigrants but a warmer welcome for those admitted.

The costs for local police are often minimal, Ms. Vaughan said, because the federal government pays jailing costs, and verifying immigration status can be done in conjunction with standard checks of criminal databases. Immigrants are less likely to report crimes, she added, because of language barriers, a lack of understanding about American law, and a general distrust of authority stemming from corruption in their home countries.

So the police don't understand what is really happening, but a think-tank analyst does. O, sure.

“None of this is related to fear of deportation,” she said.

Huh? It is corruption of law enforcemet in their home countries that afflicts immigrants

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