Local cops don’t want to be junior Border Patrol agents

The New York Times reports that the Police Executive Research Forum has some real issues with laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 which attempts to turn local law enforcement agencies into immigration law enforcement outfits…junior Border Patrol agents.

Police Chiefs Wary of Immigration Role

As many state legislatures consider laws to expand the role of local police departments in immigration control, police chiefs across the country say they are reluctant to take on these tasks and want clear lines drawn between local crime-fighting and federal immigration enforcement, according to a new report by a police research group.

Dozens of police department commanders who participated in the report recommended that local officers should be explicitly prohibited from arresting people solely because of their immigration status, and should have orders to protect victims and witnesses regardless of that status.

The report, issued on Thursday by the Police Executive Research Forum, cites worries among police chiefs that if they are pulled into immigration enforcement, a job that was limited until recently to federal agents, their ties to immigrant communities will be eroded, with the result that crimes would not be reported and witnesses would be afraid to cooperate in investigations.


The  Police Executive Research Forum issued a report about Police and Immigration and had the following recommendations from a summit conference:

Immigration Summit Participants’ Recommendations

For the Administration and Congress

1. United States borders should be made more secure, not only in terms of preventing illegal immigration, but also in preventing the illegal trafficking of drugs and firearms.

2. Federal agencies and the Congress should consult with state and local police agencies as they craft immigration policies and legislation. The inclusion of local law enforcement in the policy-making process will result in more realistic, practical and informed policies that have the support of local communities.

3. The motivation for involving local police agencies with the federal agencies that are charged with immigration enforcement should be to improve public safety and information-sharing among all law enforcement agencies

4. National comprehensive immigration reform legislation should not be delayed any longer. New legislation should include provisions regarding guest workers, provision of permanent legal status, and employer and family-based visa systems.

5. Improvements should be made to ensure tamper-proof identification and work authorization documents for persons allowed into the country

6. Recognizing the federal government’s recent shift in emphasis regarding the enforcement of illegal immigration law in the employment arena, with less attention to worker violations and greater attention to employers who cultivate illegal workforces, there should be comprehensive plans and setting of priorities for enforcement in this area. Local police should be consulted prior to major enforcement actions in their communities and should be informed about arrests in their communities.

7. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should increase its coordination with and responsiveness to local police agencies. ICE officials should be more visible in communities to explain their policies and actions and should be available when local police request assistance.

8. The authority of local police agencies and their officers to become involved in the enforcement of federal immigration laws, and limitations on that authority, should be clearly defined.

9. Stricter controls should be put into place regarding whose names are entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) on civil immigration detainers. Controls are needed to eliminate the entering of civil detainers into a system intended for criminal warrants, which creates confusion for local police, and may cause them to exceed their authority by arresting a person on a civil detainer

Immigration Summit Participants’ Recommendations

For Local Police

1. Officers should be prohibited from arresting or detaining persons for the
sole purpose of investigating their immigration status.

2. Officers should arrest persons who violate the criminal laws of their
jurisdictions without regard to the immigration status of the alleged
perpetrator or the victim.

3. Local police must uphold the Constitutional and civil rights of persons
regardless of their immigration status.

4. Local police must protect crime victims and witnesses regardless of their
immigration status, and should encourage all victims and witnesses to report
crimes, regardless of their immigration status.

5. Local police should engage immigrant communities in dialogue about
department policies and programs.

6. Local police agencies should educate their communities about their role in
immigration enforcement, especially the legal authorities and responsibilities
of local police and federal law enforcement.

7. Local police should develop comprehensive written policies and procedures
regarding handling of undocumented immigrants.

8. Local police agencies should monitor indicators of racial profiling by
employees, investigate violations, and sanction offenders.

9. Local police agencies should become knowledgeable about programs such as
287(g), Secure Communities, and state or local initiatives to ensure that the
programs meet the agency’s specified goals for participation.


About Hugh Holub

Attorney and writer.
This entry was posted in border issues, border patrol, border security, SB 1070. Bookmark the permalink.

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