leaders can ally with both law enforcement and victims' rights groups by
promoting policies that protect immigrant victims of crime when they contact
the police, and by encouraging community policing efforts in immigrant
as some states and local communities have promoted local law enforcement to
enforce federal immigration laws, other states and communities have instead encouraged
victims and witnesses of crime, particularly those suffering from domestic
violence, to come forward without fear of police inquiry into their immigration
2008, the Virginia
legislature introduced two bills, SB 441 and HB 307, prohibiting law
enforcement officers from inquiring into the immigration status of any
person who reports being a victim or witness of a crime.
Rhode Island's proposed HB 7967 offered similar
protections for immigrant victims and witnesses, but also prohibits local
law enforcement from entering into any agreements to enforce federal
immigration laws. SB 2237 would add a
requirement that officers maintain confidentiality if an immigrant's
status is known, and requires training and cooperation with community
organizations to implement the law.
California and Hawaii both
proposed bills focusing on protecting immigrant victims of domestic
violence. California AJR 42 urges the U.S.
Congress not to change the current policy allowing immigrant victims to
pursue permanent resident status. Hawaii HB 2140 requires the state
Department of Human Services to establish a pilot program to assist
undocumented immigrant victims.
New Jersey's Attorney General
Anne Milgram issued an August 22, 2007
to law enforcement officers, prohibiting officers from inquiring about or investigating the immigration status of any
victim, witness, or person requesting assistance from the police. The
directive also prohibits racial profiling.
should emphasize that we do not improve public safety by making immigrants
afraid to cooperate with the police or anti-terror authorities. States should condemn turning every police
officer or, even worse, every social worker into a potential immigration
enforcement agent, because it undermines community policing and other known
effective law enforcement approaches.
Rhode Island's HB 5237 and New Hampshire's HB 404 would prohibit the use
of state and local law enforcement agencies for the purpose of detecting or
apprehending persons whose only violation of law is that they are persons of
foreign citizenship who are in violation of federal immigration
over immigrants encourages racial profiling by law enforcement, so proposals
like Texas HB 2428 / SB 150 would prohibit law
enforcement profiling based on a person's immigration or nationality status.
anti-immigration forces seek to paint immigrants as a dangerous criminal force,
the facts show that immigrants commit fewer crimes than the general population
proportionately. But more importantly,
most law enforcement groups recognize that it becomes harder to protect victims
of crime, particularly immigrants themselves, when millions of people living in
our communities are fearful of talking to the police when they witness a crime
or are a victim of one. A report endorsed by the Major Cities Chiefs
representing the police departments of New York City, Los Angeles, Houston and
city departments serving over fifty million residents outlined:
"Immigration enforcement by local police would
likely negatively effect and undermine the level of trust and cooperation
between local police and immigrant communities. If the undocumented immigrant's primary
concern is that they will be deported or subjected to an immigration status
investigation, then they will not come forward and provide needed assistance
and cooperation...Such a divide between the local police and immigrant groups
would result in increased crime against immigrants and in the broader
community, create a class of silent victims and eliminate the potential for
assistance from immigrants in solving crimes or preventing future terroristic
leaders can frame reasonable treatment of immigrant communities as critical to
promoting public safety.
immigrant outreach for public safety and anti-terror policy legislation should
States are facing hard budget times this year, with twenty states facing a combined budget shortfall
of at least $34 billion for 2009 -- and the President's proposed budget
would not only make them worse, but would disproportionately hurt many
of the most vulnerable populations in the country.
In November, Progressive States Network launched our State Immigration Project
to support efforts by legislators and advocates to challenge
anti-immigrant policies and promote smarter, humane policy that would
address the concerns of voters.