Danny Sigui of Providence, R.I., saw a murder, called 911 and testified during the trial. But he had entered the U.S. illegally in 1989 from Guatemala, so he was deported, says the Christian Science Monitor. “For doing a good thing, this is what I get,” he says.
The Monitor says that immigrants are less likely to cooperate with law enforcement if they fear deportation. Many police support confidentiality policies that discourage them from reporting an immigrant’s status. Opponents say such “sanctuary laws” encourage illegal immigration, undermine the war on terrorism, and contradict federal immigration laws.
A proposal is pending in Congress that would deputize local and state police as immigration officers. Under the “CLEAR” bill, police lose some federal aid if they did not pursue undocumented immigrants for visa violations.
The argument for these policies is that “whoever has the resources” should enforce borders, says Sarah Paoletti of at the Washington College of Law at American University. “The argument against it is [that] immigration law is just so complicated, that to try to effectively handle it by local police … can lead to lots of abuses. You don’t want to have a have a disincentive for witnesses to come forward.”
Critics say confidentiality policies are barred by a 1996 federal immigration law. “They allow illegal immigrants to establish themselves as residents and possibly commit an act of terrorism against American families,” says David Ray of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). “They shelter would-be terrorists from federal detection.”