Tucson Police Chief on Immigration Enforcement

June 26, 2013

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

Congress Should Drop Unfunded Mandates on Law Enforcement

WASHINGTON — Changes proposed to S. 744, the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill, as well as the SAFE Act, an anti-immigrant bill that could head to the House floor in the coming weeks, would compel law enforcement officers to engage in immigration enforcement activities or risk losing funding. Below is a statement from Roberto Villaseñor, police chief of Tucson, Arizona:

“Legislation that would take laws like SB 1070 and make them law in communities across the nation are not just misguided, they could make all our communities less safe by requiring local law enforcement to assume a responsibility they are not able to meet, and that is inconsistent with their primary mission.

“We remain concerned that Arizona’s SB 1070 threatens law enforcement officers’ delicate ties with Latino and immigrant communities because members of these communities may be afraid to come forward as victims of, or witnesses to, crime.  That’s why reports that legislators in the Senate and the House of Representatives are considering legislation that would expand upon SB 1070’s mandates, essentially turning police officers into immigration agents, are so disturbing.

“The House’s SAFE Act and amendments being considered in the Senate would blur the line between local policing and immigration enforcement, making our job as law enforcement officers more difficult and detracting from public safety as a result.  Law enforcement officers have taken an oath to protect all those who live within our communities, regardless of race, culture, or nation of birth. We don’t need shortsighted laws that tie our hands and prevent us from establishing the trust we need to protect the communities we serve.

“Congress has an historic opportunity to address a broken immigration system by bringing about reasonable immigration reform. They should not squander this opportunity by adding unfunded immigrant detention and deportation mandates to a local law enforcement officer’s already-full plate.”

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