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Police to Congress: We Can’t Clean Up Your Mess. “Step Up” and Pass Immigration Reform

by Dara Lind on 02/26/2010 at 1:40pm

When the federal government doesn’t act on immigration, local communities feel the pain. Cops, in particular, have come forward to acknowledge that the strain of the broken system is making it harder for them to do their crucial jobs — to fight crime, day in and day out.

So it makes sense that, this week, police chiefs across the country have been sending Congress a simple message (though they’re too polite to put it this way): grow up, take some responsibility, and pass immigration reform that makes all of us safer.

That was the prevailing sentiment from Chief Lisa Womack of Elgin, IL; Sheriff Richard Wiles of El Paso, TX; and Chief Sam Granato of Yakima, WA, when they participated in a telephonic press conference yesterday sponsored by the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative (LEEI). They called on President Obama and Congress to (in Chief Granato’s words) “step up to the plate” on reform. Meanwhile, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran told the Chicago Tribune that he supports comprehensive immigration reform, calling it “morally the right thing to do.” The Tribune writes:

Curran argued that legalization would make it easier for potential witnesses to come forward during police investigations. “They’re going to be patriotic Americans,” he said.

Undocumented residents’ reluctance to notify police when they are witnesses or victims of crime has been a constant frustration of the law enforcement community as they call on Congress to clean up its mess, and it was a theme of yesterday’s LEEI call as well.

“What we see is people afraid to step out of the shadows to report a crime or be a witness,” Chief Granato said, as reported in the Yakima Herald Republic.

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