FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2015
Gebe Martinez, [email protected], 703-731-9505
House to Vote on Politically Driven Bill Undermining Community-Safety Policies, Women, and Other Victims of Crime
NILC, AILA, CAP send vote-“no” recommendation to House
WASHINGTON — Legislation that would strip federal grants from local police agencies that prioritize building and restoring community trust over detention and deportation will undermine public safety, according to a vote-“no” recommendation to lawmakers from the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and the Center for American Progress (CAP).
“H.R. 3009 is reactionary legislation that will not even advance its stated goal of protecting American communities. Instead, the bill scapegoats immigrants and seeks to punish cities and counties that it labels as ‘sanctuary cities,’” the groups stated in their vote recommendation on the bill, which was hurriedly introduced after the tragic death of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco. These cities “do not harbor dangerous or violent criminals but instead promote public safety by using well-established community-oriented policing strategies that build trust between law enforcement and the community,” the groups told members of Congress.
“It is unconscionable that Congress would threaten to cut critical funds for police programs that build community trust and assist crime victims, including survivors of domestic violence,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of NILC. “Punishing local and state law enforcement agencies by taking away grants for essential crime-solving tools like rape kits and bullet-proof vests absolutely undermines public safety and protections for victims of crime,” Hincapié added.
“These ill-conceived policies will not achieve their purported intent, but will result in immigrants being scapegoated. Instead of voting on dangerous bills that undercut community safety, Congress should focus on real solutions that would come from passing comprehensive immigration reform,” the NILC executive director said.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week, Chief Thomas Manger, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association and police chief for Montgomery County, MD, said, “Surely, the committee recognizes that withholding federal funds to coerce performance of federal duties by local police is not why these programs were established.” The point was underscored today by Dayton, OH, Police Chief Richard Biehl, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing. “We should not punish localities that are trying to promote trust in their communities,” Biehl told the congressional panel.
H.R. 3009 would withhold grants to “sanctuary cities” from the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (“SCAAP”), the Community Oriented Policing Services (“COPS”) program, and the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (“Byrne JAG”).
In a blog published today in The Hill, Grace Huang, public policy program coordinator for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, described cases in which immigrant women’s trust in police — or lack of trust because of fear of deportation simply for reporting a crime — affected crime-solving.
“In Seattle, where I live, more than two dozen sexual assaults were committed against Asian women waiting for the bus. Their willingness to come forward led to the arrest of the attacker,” Huang wrote. “If victims and witnesses of crime do not feel safe to step forward, the police cannot do their jobs and we are all less safe.”
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