Community-Safety Policies Highlighted

July 20, 2015

Gebe Martinez, NILC, [email protected], 703-731-9505
Katy Green, 650-464-1545

Ahead of Senate Judiciary Hearing, Law Enforcement Leader, Legal Experts, and Victims’ Services Advocates Discuss the Importance of Community-Safety Policies

Leaders speak out against efforts to demagogue and stereotype broader immigrant community

WASHINGTON — With Congress poised to consider heavy-handed, reactionary immigration proposals following the tragic murder of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco, law enforcement, immigrants’ rights and victims’ services advocates urged Congress on Monday not to impose immigration enforcement mandates on local law enforcers.

“We strongly oppose any legislation that would undermine state and local law enforcement’s efforts to build and restore community trust,” said Avideh Moussavian, policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday on proposals that would broadly criminalize and punish the larger immigrant community as the result of Steinle’s death, which involved an undocumented immigrant. Immediately after the death, some politicians exploited the issue to advance an anti-immigrant agenda, prompting some members of Congress to question community safety policies that promote trust between law enforcement and immigrants while protecting all residents.

Thomas Manger, President of the Major Cities Chiefs and Chief of Police of Montgomery County, Maryland, explained on the press call the high priority that local law enforcement agencies and cities give to maintaining community trust.

“While immigration enforcement is not our role, it is our duty to cooperate in a manner that is consistent with our duty to protect the public,” Manger said, adding that local agencies “should not be harmed or punished for this one case, which I think was more of an anomaly.”

Angela Chan, Policy Director and Senior Staff Attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, emphasized that these local policies are key to protecting fundamental, constitutional rights. “Ending unconstitutional immigration hold requests is key to building confidence between immigrant communities and local law enforcement. When local law enforcement act as deportation agents, this puts victims and witnesses of crime at risk, and damages community safety for all.”

As Grace Huang, Public Policy Coordinator for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, added, “Efforts to undermine community safety policies would have detrimental consequences for domestic violence victims: “Domestic violence victims must be able to access the police when they need help. When immigrants are afraid to come forward to seek help, the entire community is less safe.”

The press conference coincided with the announcement of a letter to members of Congresssigned by almost 90 local and national organizations, stating strong opposition to legislation that, “scapegoats all immigrants based on the acts of one.”

A recording of today’s call is available at

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