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Protect Immigrant Victims and Witnesses to Crimes

Arizona and the Nation: A Failing State Versus Positive Approaches to Immigrant Integration

As we highlighted two weeks ago, the Arizona legislature and Governor's decisions to pass a punitive, anti-immigrant bill - SB1070 - have unleashed a torrent of condemnations inside and outside of Arizona.  Voices speaking up against the bill have come not only from civil rights organizations, but have also included public safety officials, constitutional legal scholars, and, significantly, Republican leaders and candidates from other states with significant immigrant populations.

Community Policing as an Alternative to Local Enforcement of Immigration Law

When Denver voters rejected a proposal last week by 70% to force police to automatically impound cars of unlicensed drivers -- an anti-immigrant measure designed to punish undocumented immigrants who can't get drivers licenses -- they followed the trend of communities across the nation, often led by public safety officials themselves, who are refusing to divert scarce public resources for anti-immigrant purposes.

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.

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Eye on the Right: Anti-Immigrant Groups and White Supremacists Flounder, Attempt to Rebrand for Wider Appeal

The anti-immigrant "movement" has been flailing recently.  With donor fraud and embezzlement fueling the splintering of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, and dysfunction and check-bouncing at their previous partner organization, the Minutemen Project, anti-immigrant organizations are seeing dissent and confusion rule their ranks.

State Immigration Project: Policy Options for 2009

Download a copy of the reports in PDF format here.  View the HTML version of the report here.