The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's SB 1070 statute directed a national spotlight on one of the most draconian anti-immigration laws of our times. The law virtually stripped an entire segment of our society of the most basic civil rights.
While the Court struck down most provisions of SB1070, it upheld the section that allows local police to act as an arm of Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE), the principal investigative branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
The “show me your papers” provision of the law is problematic for several reasons. It will result in increased racial profiling of Latinos. It will impact safety and increase crime as immigrant communities fearful of deportation refuse to cooperate with law enforcement, and as limited police resources are diverted from addressing crimes to handle immigration.
And, finally, it will subject police officers and their agencies to liability for alleged racial profiling.
Using race as a predictor of unlawful immigration status will become the norm for some law enforcement officers in
Racial profiling is already a major problem in some parts of
As the former Chief of Police in
Sheriff Arpaio blames most crime in
In contrast, in areas policed by Arpaio, violent and other serious crime increased substantially.
The only difference between
Consequently, our residents mostly trusted the police and felt comfortable reporting crimes and working with law enforcement to make our city safer. Immigrants did not have to fear the Mesa Police Department.
Arpaio, on the other hand, preferred to spend his time demonizing Latinos and rounding up immigrants, frequently detaining
This misplaced emphasis on enforcing Federal immigration laws drove crime up in
Immigration laws are complex and mostly misunderstood by the average patrol officer. Crossing the border without proper documents or remaining in the country after your visa expires do not always constitute a crime under U.S. law. These and many other violations of the Federal immigration statutes can be administrative in nature, and their enforcement by street-level police officers is fraught with potential constitutional problems.
Having local and state police enforce immigration laws regularly will subject the officers and their agencies to increased liability for accusations of racial profiling, illegal detentions and arrests. Arpaio's Sheriff's Department is squandering millions in litigation stemming from allegations of unconstitutional policing. Other police agencies forced to comply with SB1070 will face similar accusations and losses.
Immigration is a complex area of the law. It is best left up to ICE, lawyers and the courts— rather than police officers.
It should not be adjudicated on the street corners of our nation.
George Gascón was elected