Posted on July 22, 2005

Ramsey Reaffirms A Ban On Citizenship Questions To Ease Immigrants’ Fear

Chris Aguilar, Washington Post, July 21

To help subdue the fears of illegal immigrants who are crime victims or witnesses, D.C. police Chief Charles H. Ramsey recently reaffirmed the department’s policy barring officers from asking people about their citizenship status.

“Officers are strictly prohibited from making inquires into citizenship or residency status for the purpose of determining whether an individual has violated the civil immigration laws or for the purpose of enforcing those laws,” Ramsey said in a statement earlier this month.

“If some of our residents are reluctant to interact with the police, because they fear we are there to enforce civil immigration laws, then all hopes for partnership and cooperation are lost, and what really suffers most is the safety of the entire community.”

Ramsey said the policy was being reaffirmed because many people are unaware of it or misunderstand it. “In conversations with the Latino community, we agreed to keep this policy at the forefront and keep reminding people of the importance of it,” he said.

Ramsey said police will continue to pursue suspects regardless of citizenship and immigration status. “If someone is violating the law and they’re undocumented, we will report them to the INS, but we can only prosecute the criminal charges, and we let the INS do what they want about the immigration issues,” he said.

Police spokesman Enrique Rivera said Hispanics particularly “are targeted by criminals, especially on days in which they are paid.”