Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon demanded that Congress break its stalemate on immigration reform and relieve local jurisdictions of burdens he says they face because of incoherent federal policies, reports the Arizona Republic. In the keynote address at a conference of the Police Foundation, Gordon said he wants to help mobilize a national effort that would “knock Congress upside down on its partisan head and tell them to fix the damn problem.” The theme of the conference, which ends today, is, “The Role of Local Police: Striking a balance between immigration enforcement and civil liberties.”
Foundation President Hubert Williams, former police director in Newark, said that, “Law enforcement officers at the local level have been subjected to a whirlwind of conflicting political pressures which are growing in intensity because of the lack of a comprehensive national immigration policy.” Gordon blamed Congress for the flourishing trade in smuggling illegal immigrants that he said has forced the city to spend millions to help combat smugglers and related crimes such as extortion and kidnapping schemes.”The overtime hours are staggering,” he said; the city is hiring about 100 new officers to deal with crimes related to illegal immigration. Gordon invited the widow of a Phoenix police officer killed last year by an illegal immigrant to address the conference. Julie Erfle, whose husband Nick was shot and killed by a man who had returned to the U.S. after being deported to Mexico, said her determination to find some meaning in her family’s loss had led her to reject the anger of those who want to deport illegal immigrants.