Rev. Luis Cortés, Jr, Esperanza.us, September 20, 2006
Contact: Krista Poplau, of Esperanza USA, [email protected]
Washington — Today, Rev. Luis Cortes warns Congress of the serious unintended consequences of increased state and local law enforcement authority to enforce federal immigration laws contained in H.R. 6089 on the House floor this Thursday:
“Giving state and local law enforcement new authority to enforce federal immigration statutes would instantly transform the close, cooperative relationship community leaders, especially Hispanic clergy, have with local police into an adversarial one.
“Police would no longer be there to protect us but to trap those members of our community who are undocumented. Hundreds of extremely successful community police programs depend on community volunteer participation. Together they make communities, families and children safer. All would shut down.
“The vast majority of our community who support and appreciate local law enforcement would be forced to keep them at arm’s length, creating a distance between police and the community that will severely diminish the health and safety of the community. This would take place in some of our county’s poorest communities where energy should be focused on strengthening, not severing, relations with local law enforcement.
“A serious dark side would emerge as all undocumented instantly become targets, easy prey for the criminal who would take advantage of law enforcement’s role in immigration enforcement to enhance their criminal enterprises.
“12 million people — plus their 3 million children & their 40 million American citizen family members — can no longer call the police. Violent criminals will have more rights than hard working members of communities whose only infraction was the misdemeanor offense of entering our country looking for work or to unite their family.
“Drug dealers could prey on the undocumented demanding their property or to have their kids run drugs for them. Single undocumented mothers and their daughters — and the men who seek to protect them — become instant targets for unreported rape and abuse. The rapist will mockingly hand her the phone and dare her to call 911.
“State and local law enforcement agrees with us. On June 23, Philadelphia Chief of Police Sylvester Johnson — joined by 56 Police Chiefs of Major Metropolitan Areas at a Major Chiefs Association press conference — -said that his officers will not track down undocumented immigrants.
“Esperanza USA supports efforts to secure and defend America’s borders. In our zealousness to be secure, however, enforcement of federal immigration statutes must remain a federal responsibility.”
Please call and send a strong message to Congress that this proposal makes us all less safe!
This week, the House introduced various bills that do nothing to fix our nation’s broken immigration system, but are designed to produce good sound bites in the run-up to the November elections. One such bill is H.R. 6089, which includes provisions from the CLEAR Act and H.R. 4437 to turn state and local police into immigration agents.
This bill will jeopardize public safety. By gaining the trust of the community, state and local law enforcement have reduced crime and victimization across the country. If immigrants see state and local police as federal immigration agents, they will be less likely to come forward and report information about crimes that they witness or experience; the trust needed for effective community policing will be destroyed. Many law enforcement agents have expressed opposition to this provision because they do not want to lose the trust of the community.
This bill is not about apprehending criminals. Police officers already have the duty to arrest those people in our communities who are committing crimes.. The bill’s supporters claim to simply recognize an inherent authority for police to enforce federal immigration law. But if this is the case, then why would such a law be needed? This is a back-door attempt to turn state and local law enforcement into federal law enforcement agencies.
Victims of domestic violence and other crimes will have good reason to fear the police if this bill passes.. Under this new legislation, every contact that crime victims have with the police will be fraught with peril because their immigration status can be called into question.
Call your Representative TODAY and ask them to vote NO on HR 6089!
Tell them that:
- Turning state and local police into immigration officers will jeopardize public safety.
- This is simply another ineffective enforcement-only bill and the federal government’s latest attempt to pass the buck to the states.
- We want solutions, not sound bites. Congress must act on real immigration reform, not piecemeal measures that harm our communities and solve nothing.