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Community Policing and Response to Secure Communities

Policy Checklist for the New State Legislative Sessions

Overview

Progressive 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 communities.  

Even 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 status.

  • In 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 directive 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.

See also:      

Overview

Progressives 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 laws.       

Hysteria 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.

See also:

Overview

While 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 Association, 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 acts."

Progressive leaders can frame reasonable treatment of immigrant communities as critical to promoting public safety.

Core immigrant outreach for public safety and anti-terror policy legislation should include:

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State Immigration Policies & Politics in 2008

State Immigration Policies & Politics in 2008

Monday, February 4th, 2008

http://www.progressivestates.o

State Immigration Policies & Politics in 2008

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.