• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Law Enforcement Officials Fear Arizona-Like Immigration Laws Will Deter From Crime Fighting

A group of law enforcement officials from across the nation came to Washington today to voice their concerns about the Arizona immigration law:

Arizona’s new crackdown on illegal immigration will increase crime in U.S. cities, not reduce it, by driving a wedge between police and immigrant communities, police chiefs from several of the state’s and the nation’s largest cities said Tuesday.

The new Arizona law will intimidate crime victims and witnesses who are illegal immigrants and divert police from investigating more serious crimes, chiefs from Los Angeles, Houston and Philadelphia said. They will join their counterparts from Montgomery County and a half-dozen other U.S. cities in meeting Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Wednesday morning to discuss the measure.

“This is not a law that increases public safety. This is a bill that makes it much harder for us to do our jobs,” Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said. “Crime will go up if this becomes law in Arizona or in any other state.”

The delegation was organized by the Police Executive Research Forum, a membership organization of police chiefs that functions as an independent think tankin Washington. The group’s meeting with Holder comes as 15 states are considering their own versions of the Arizona law, which defines illegal immigration as criminal trespassing and requires police to request documents of anyone they stop and have a “reasonable suspicion” is in the country illegally.

(…)

Unlike most police chiefs, almost all sheriffs are elected officials. However, only about 60 of the nation’s 3,000-plus elected sheriffs have chosen to participate in the federal program championed by Arpaio. Meanwhile, the nation’s leading police chiefs have voiced caution about such initiatives.

In 2006, the Major Cities Chiefs Association — which represents 56 U.S. cities — unanimously warned that putting “local police in the crosshairs” of the national immigration debate would undo the success of community policing efforts in recent decades, said San Jose Police Chief Robert L. “Rob” Davis, association president and part of the group meeting Holder.

Requiring the Los Angeles Police Department to prioritize the arrest of 400,000 illegal immigrants among the city’s 4.1 million residents would “cripple us and make it impossible for us to do our jobs,” Beck said.

Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said directing officers to spend hours investigating the immigration status of every person stopped with a suspect identification card would mean less time to catch violent criminals.

“We want to focus resources on people who are committing crimes in our communities,” Manger said. “If you got somebody who is gangbanging and committing armed robberies, we’ll work with [federal immigration authorities] all day long to find that individual.”

It’s a valid argument, I believe. Communities where immigrants, legal and illegal, live are also likely to be the targets of criminal activity for a variety of reasons. If the impression is created that the local police are little more than agents of the Federal immigration authorities, then, obviously, someone who is the victim of a crime is going to be less likely to report that crime, or cooperate with investigating officers, if they believe that they risk deportation. Rather than cutting down on crime, the current war against “illegal immigration” is likely to make it even more of a problem by making it harder for law enforcement to solve cases.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. LaurenceB says:

    As I’ve said here before, there were three problems with the original Arizona law:

    1. It was either written badly, or intentionally written to be too broad. Most of this was repaired in the amended version that the Arizona legislature was forced to come up with.
    2. The implementation of the law will almost certainly involve racial profiling.
    3. It’s just a dumb idea. It will lead to any number of costly lawsuits, it will divert law-enforcement resources from law-enforcement, etc., etc., etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. LaurenceB: agreed on all counts.

    I’d add that it really won’t accomplish what its authors and booster think that it will.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    If the impression is created that the local police are little more than agents of the Federal immigration authorities, then, obviously, someone who is the victim of a crime is going to be less likely to report that crime, or cooperate with investigating officers, if they believe that they risk deportation.

    Or, believing that they won’t have police protection, they will return to their native country. Why doesn’t anyone see this as an alternative? And as for police not being able to do their jobs, their jobs involve arresting people who have committed crimes, which by deinition includes “illegal aliens”.

    Everyone wants to critcize Arizona for passing a law, which incidently is a copy of the federal law to which nobody seems to object, yet nobody seems to offer a solution. All I hear is a bunch of bitchin’ and whining.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. LaurenceB says:

    “All I hear is a bunch of bitchin’ and whining.”

    I’m perfectly happy to volunteer a solution:

    1. Dramatically increase the quotas for legal immigrants from Mexico and Central America. As Dr. Taylor says, the reason we have an illegal immigrant problem is because of supply and demand. By allowing more legal immigration, the demand for illegal immigration decreases.

    2. For non-criminal illegal aliens who meet qualifications (language, health tests, etc.) and are willing to pay a fine, provide a means for legal residency (not necessarily citizenship).

    Well, there you have it. Even if you don’t agree with my proposed solution, don’t let it be said I’m just “bitching and whining”. Right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Dantheman says:

    Any solution for illegal immigration needs to deal with the demand side, as much as the supply side. The penalties on the employers for hiring illegals should be increased, and enforcement stepped up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. john personna says:

    I guess police everywhere get latitude on which laws they want to enforce. Police out here let you drive through occupied crosswalks, the pattern seems to be that if you don’t go too fast, and are at least one car lane away, you’re ok. (I worked in a building where the parking lot was across the street. Once a month or so cops would stake out our crosswalk. It was pretty interesting to see when THEY thought someone had just come too close to me.)

    I’d hope these cops are going after their biggest problems, whatever they are. Maybe that’s illegals, maybe it’s meth dealers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Rick Almeida says:

    Everyone wants to critcize Arizona for passing a law, which incidently is a copy of the federal law to which nobody seems to object, yet nobody seems to offer a solution.

    Please provide the cite to US Code which requires law enforcement to inquire into the residency status of individuals upon reasonable suspicion the suspect is here illegally.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Almeida, google it. Then have some actually read the Arizona law to you. Make sure they read slow so you don’t miss anything. There seems to be a kneejerk reaction to this Arizona law. If you do not live in Arizona, it is none of our business. California has virtually the same law on its books though unenforced. People who cross our borders illegally are not immigrants seeking to assimilate, they are invaders Why is it Mexican have some right to cross our borders without our permission and we are not suppose to do anything about it except forgive them and give them something most people who came here had to go through to obtain? That valuable thing is U.S. Citizenship. In my humble opinion. We should adapt and enforce laws exactly like those of Mexco concerning those who cross our borders illegally. Lastly, If you do not live in Arizona and are criticizing this law. STFU.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. grampagravy says:

    The “demand” portion of the supply and demand argument is really a demand for large numbers of people willing and able to work for peanuts. Often we’re talking cash, untaxed peanuts. This argument is only valid to those who benefit from ignoring hard won labor and immigration laws.
    The solution that “non-criminal illegal aliens…..” wait a minute! their presence in this country is a crime in progress.
    Admit it, you folks who want to defend the trespassers just hate the idea of watching the price of lettuce go up, or of watching the sacred bottom line take a hit when everyone in America can demand a wage that allows them to live in America.
    It is also worth noting that more than a few of the trespassers, who march down Washington Street in Phoenix waving Mexican flags and refusing to speak English or assimilate in any way, envision undoing the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, someday, by sheer weight of numbers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. TangoMan says:

    As Dr. Taylor says, the reason we have an illegal immigrant problem is because of supply and demand. By allowing more legal immigration, the demand for illegal immigration decreases.

    That’s right, Dr. Taylor says, but he doesn’t show, he doesn’t argue, he doesn’t provide evidence. he just says. Sorry, that doesn’t cut it with me.

    If there is a labor shortage in the US then I first need Dr. Taylor to explain to me why we’ve seen an 11 percentage point drop in male workforce participation rates between 1973 and 2009 and why we’ve seen a 40% increase in Social Security Disability claimants between 2000 and 2008.

    I’m arguing that we can infer labor force displacement instead of labor force shortages. Prove me incorrect in this inference. Don’t just tell me what someone else has said.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. JKB says:

    Funny quirk of the Arizona law, it only applies to Arizona law enforcement. See we have 50 microcosms who can try out different ideas. The Arizona law shouldn’t have any impact on Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia or suburban Maryland. If the chiefs are concerned, they can post a sign at the border telling illegals they aren’t in Arizona anymore.

    What they are afraid of is that the Arizona law will work and their refusal to enforce the law will blow back when an illegal drunk driver kills another kid or rapes a coed. These are the same guys who are loath to see their law abiding victims citizens get the right to bear arms since reveals their BS ideas about gun control.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. superdestroyer says:

    If it is too hard for government officials to enforce immigration laws and it leads to bad outcomes, then how will first line supervisors in private businesses ever be able to ensure that they do not hire illegal aliens.

    If American wants to be a real country and control its borders, then every government worker should have the responsibility of enforcing the law. The school system, the social security administration, the tax collectors, government inspectors all need to be responsible for enforcing the law. If a teacher cannot do anything about illegal immigrants, if the tax collectors cannot do anything about illegal immigrants, then why should the manager of McDonald’s be responsible for enforcing immigrant laws?

    The cheap labor Republicans and the massive government supporting Democrats should just admit that they want open borders, unlimited immigration, and a massive entitlement based social welfare state to support it. The open border supporters should also explain why the children of illegal aliens should receive race based government benefits while the U.S. will soon be majority Hispanic?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Herb says:

    The cheap labor Republicans and the massive government supporting Democrats should just admit that they want open borders, unlimited immigration, and a massive entitlement based social welfare state to support it.

    Hmm…I wonder why they haven’t admitted this already. Perhaps it’s a position that very few people hold.

    I bet if you keep fighting that straw man, though, you might eventually win the argument.

    The Arizona law shouldn’t have any impact on Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia or suburban Maryland.

    No impact at all? The coyotes won’t change their route through New Mexico or Texas? The illegals already in Arizona won’t move to other states? It defies credibility that there won’t be any impact outside of Arizona, especially if the law works as intended.

    I’m arguing that we can infer labor force displacement instead of labor force shortages. Prove me incorrect in this inference.

    Actually, Tangoman, I don’t think you’re incorrect at all. It sure seems like a displacement rather than a shortage. But I’m not sure the cause was illegal immigration or if that was just an outgrowth of a larger economic trend.

    The jobs that illegal immigrants do are not very attractive to American workers, either because of their nature (who wants to work at a meatpacking plant anyway?) or their low-pay. And yet those jobs must still get done. The trends toward wage stagnation and loss of benefits will probably end up making those jobs even less attractive.

    So what came first? The immigrant or the job no one else would do?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Mithras says:

    Rather than cutting down on crime, the current war against “illegal immigration” is likely to make it even more of a problem by making it harder for law enforcement to solve cases.

    But this is a feature, not a bug, for conservatives. Depriving immigrant communities of law and order will increase violence and crime rates, which increases white (Republican) support for conservative policies and decreases the coherence and power of the political influence of Americans (largely Democrats) in those communities. This is a familiar cycle in urban African-American communities through the so-called war on drugs: a) Declare war on drugs and increase spending on law enforcement, leading to higher crime rates and violence in cities, which b) decreases political support for social spending in cities and increases it for more law enforcement, and c) results in more delinquency and dysfunction in the black community, increasing support for more draconian law enforcement responses, like 3 strikes and harsh crack cocaine sentencing. Wash, rinse, repeats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. superdestroyer says:

    Do the open border, cheap labor supporters have no shame. Trying to blame higher crime on people who believe that rules should be followed is idiotic.

    20% of the male felons in California jails are illegal immigrants. Does anyone really believe that 20% of the males 20-35 in California are illegal aliens? The police department refuse to identify criminals as illegal aliens. Any one who claims that an illegal alien who has stolen an identify to work, who cheats on his taxes, and who violates building codes is a good, law abiding citizen is a fool.

    Look at how Texas had to move the car registration sticker to inside the window of the war instead of the license plate because illegal aliens would steal them. Lawyers in Texas laugh , in private, about the mexican wreck problem when a law abiding citizen is hit in a car accident by an illegal alien. No insurance and no ability to be sued.

    Why do the open borders types want to turn the entire U.S. into Laredo Texas that cannot even support a bookstore anymore because so few people there can read of write in any language.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. TangoMan says:

    The jobs that illegal immigrants do are not very attractive to American workers, either because of their nature (who wants to work at a meatpacking plant anyway?) or their low-pay.

    No disrespect intended, but what you’re doing is arguing an impression, and this goes on quite frequently in the illegal immigration debate. The problem occurs when the impression isn’t aligned with the facts. Who wants to work in a meatpacking plant?

    The line of applicants hoping to fill jobs vacated by undocumented workers taken away by immigration agents at the Swift & Co. meat-processing plant earlier this week was out the door Thursday.

    Among them was Derrick Stegall, who carefully filled out paperwork he hoped would get him an interview and eventually land him a job as a slaughterer.

    It’s never a question of there being jobs that Americans won’t do. Americans will do any job. The question is whether Americans will do the job for the salary that is offered? Where do you think the Americans who are applying for these jobs are being conjured from?

    The United Food and Commercial Workers filed grievances over the company’s interviews, although after the workers left, the Marshalltown plant raised its starting wage from $9.55 to $11.50 in an attempt to fill the vacancies, said Jim Olesen, the union’s local president.

    I think we can safely rule out the possibility that these applicants are applying while holding down jobs which pay better wages. This leaves us with two other sources for American applicants, 1.) people employed in occupations which pay lower wages, and 2.) people who reaped greater marginal utility for their time by participating in non-employment activities rather than devoting their time to working for less than what this meatpacking plant was offering. When the salary is competitive, the individuals in both groups will apply for the job openings, even if the job requires the gutting and butchering of animals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. TangoMan says:

    Please check your spam folder for a comment captured by your defenses.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. TangoMan says:

    My response to Herb is still stuck in your spam or moderation queue. Would you please release it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0