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NPR Interviews America’s Voice: Should Local Police Add Immigration Beat?

by Frank Sharry on 03/10/2009 at 9:26am

nprIn an interview with NPR yesterday, I lay out some of the pitfalls of local immigration enforcement in the absence of federal solutions.

Check it out – listen to the interview.

NPR’s website describes the federal-local partnership like this:

March 9, 2009 A provision which allows state and local government agencies to enforce federal immigration laws continues to draw scrutiny. The 287-G program was the subject of a government report and congressional hearing last week.

Charles “Chuck” Jenkins, a sheriff in Frederick County, Md., is joined by Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an organization that favors comprehensive immigration reform. They discuss treatment of undocumented U.S. residents, and why officials in some regions want more federal support to conduct immigration-related law enforcement on local levels.

The 287-g program, taken at its worst, breeds the likes of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. With over 2,700 lawsuits against him, a history of virulently anti-immigrant and anti-Latino tactics, and 40,000 felony warrants outstanding in his jurisdiction, Arpaio has fostered a climate in which real criminals roam free while hard-working immigrants live in fear.

In a new report published by the Immigration Policy Center, Debunking the Myth of Sanctuary Cities: Community Policing Policies Protect American Communities, my colleague Lynn Tramonte explains how opponents of comprehensive immigration reform have pushed a dangerous policy that would alienate immigrant crime victims from state and local police, a policy that would make entire communities less safe.

The issue for many local sheriff offices is, at its core, community safety. Will immigrant communities partner with law enforcement in reporting crimes if they fear that encounters with police will invariably lead to checking people’s immigration status?

Unlikely.

Will they be driven further underground, as criminals get a free pass?

You bet.

Look, we shouldn’t turn local cops into federal immigration agents just because Washington can’t get its act together. It’s time we work together to pass a fair, common-sense immigration reform that makes our country safer and stronger.

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