Detroit area officials in cities with large immigrant populations oppose a federal proposal that would require local police to enforce immigration laws, says the Detroit News. The officials say the shift would damage community relationships and crime-fighting efforts. Two bills pending in Congress would give the nation's 600,000 local and state police officers the authority to detain illegal aliens. Much of that work is done by about 2,000 agents in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In a recent year’s time, they removed about 180,000 illegal immigrants, a 21 percent increase in a year.
Officials in Detroit suburbs like Dearborn, Hamtramck, and Sterling Heights say directing police to investigate the status of immigrant residents makes residents suspicious of police – drying up important sources of information. Residents worry that the proposals would hurt police response times as cities struggle with tight budgets, state revenue sharing cuts, and Michigan's lagging economy.
The News says that other cities in Michigan and across the nation are weighing in against the proposed legislation. In Ann Arbor, the City Council has directed its officers not to enforce immigration laws. An official in Houston has ordered the police department not to enforce immigration laws. Major city police departments, including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Denver oppose the tactic.
Supporters of the bills say those municipalities are undermining an effort essential to homeland security. Some police officials in southeastern Michigan say their departments can do the job. “I think a majority of the population does not want illegal immigrants in our country, so I would be willing to support something the majority of the public supports,” Livingston County Sheriff Don Homan said. “However, I would hope that bill would not fill up county jails…they are pretty full already.”