As part of their continuing series of “Bibles, Badges, and Business” events, the Forging a New Consensus project of the National Immigration Forum today held a press conference with Bill Bratton, the former Police Commissioner to both the Los Angeles and New York Police Departments. In the midst of continuing Republican insistence that the border must further be secured before full immigration reform can be implemented, Bratton had timely comments about immigration and enforcement, saying that “from a law-enforcement perspective,” immigration reform “is long overdue.”
Bratton is also the vice chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, and noted how much border security has been beefed up in the last few years:
I’ve been very, very pleased at what we’ve seen. There has been a significant increase of inspection along the border, and the increase of “cops on dots” has been very effective. Some of these communities along the border have some of the lowest violent crime rates in America, and they are some of the safest cities in America…the growth in the Border Patrol has been phenomenal, it’s grown more than any police department I’m aware of.
Bratton also commented on policies like Secure Communities (he didn’t name the program) and how it leads to dangerous levels of mistrust between the immigrant and police communities:
The police cannot be put in a position where they are feared by their community, and immigrants are part of that community. In Los Angeles and New York, [the police department has] stayed away from that image of immigration enforcement, preferring to leave that to federal authorities. When we talk about immigrants, this is a population that is largely, largely law abiding. And they’ve been prevented from working fully with the police in keeping their communities safe.
I’ve had incredible, intimate exposure to these populations. They want what we all want, they want the American experience, they want to be able to contribute. I’m very sympathetic to their needs and very supportive of them.
The “Bibles, Badges, and Business” events showcase the broad level of support that exists for immigration reform, including among the business, law enforcement, and faith communities.