Austin Police Chief on Immigration Enforcement

June 25, 2013

Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, [email protected]

Congress Should Consider Good Policy, Not Politics, When Dealing with Immigration

WASHINGTON — Changes proposed to S. 744, the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill, as well as the SAFE Act, an anti-immigrant bill that could be considered by the House of Representatives in the coming weeks, would compel law enforcement officers to engage in immigration enforcement activities or risk losing funding. Proposed amendments to the Senate bill also would require that civil immigration status information be entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. Below is a statement from Art Acevedo, police chief of Austin,Texas, and member of the board of directors of the Major Cities Chiefs:

“Immigration is a federal policy and it demands a national solution. When local police are required to aid in the detection and detention of immigrants who but for their immigration status are otherwise law abiding and productive members of society, we lose the trust and cooperation of the immigrant community, which we rely upon for effective policing. Police departments throughout the United States have worked hard to build community partnerships because that is how we prevent crime and apprehend criminals. We have taken a solemn oath to protect everyone in our community, and that means everyone. Senators who propose that we should engage in immigration enforcement do not realize how this would undermine everything we do to build trust and prevent crime, not to mention the cost of what would amount to an unfunded mandate.

“My colleagues and I urge Congress to reject proposals that would turn police officers into immigration agents. These proposed tactics are being billed as law enforcement measures, but what they will actually do is create fear instead of trust. Victims and witnesses do not come to the police for help and protection when they fear it will result in deportation. The public we serve should expect protection from their police — not deportation.

“Immigration enforcement must remain solely a federal responsibility because immigrants will never help their local police to fight crime once they fear we have become immigration officers. For these reasons, I and my colleagues on the Major Cities Chiefs Association oppose the so-called SAFE Act now pending in the House of Representatives as well as similar provisions proposed in the Senate. These measures would force local cops to investigate and detain persons based upon their immigration status and impose many burdensome new requirements that are inappropriate. It’s no surprise that this legislation is opposed by every major city police agency in the nation. I stand with all those cities when I say that the SAFE Act is misguided and would be destructive. This represents a huge step backward at a time when we must move forward together as one community.”

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