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Why the So-Called “SAFE Act” Is Anything But Safe

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New Washington Post Story and Video Detail Dangers Behind the “Un-SAFE” Act & Consequences for Immigrant Victims of Crime

A new Washington Post story documenting the deterioration of police-community relationships due to policies like Secure Communities and state anti-immigration laws underscores the dangers of a related federal proposal called the SAFE Act.  Sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the SAFE Act was passed out of committee on a party-line vote in June of this year.

Today, America’s Voice, Cuéntame and CAMBIO are releasing a new video calling on Speaker Boehner to reject destructive policies like the SAFE Act and work on passing real reform.  Read our blog post below and watch the video here.

As Pamela Constable of the Post writes:

In the national debate over immigration changes, little attention has been paid to a subset of immigrants who live in a double shadow: thousands of women who depend on abusive spouses for legal and economic protection in the United States, and thousands more who fled violent partners in their homelands and could be in danger if forced to return…

When abuse occurs in the United States, foreign-born victims can pursue help from police and social services. But efforts to encourage them to seek official intervention come into conflict with punitive policies and proposals aimed at curbing illegal immigration and reducing crime.

Some jurisdictions empower police to turn over suspected illegal immigrants to federal officials, and a congressional proposal known as the SAFE Act would significantly expand state and local authority to enforce immigration laws. Supporters say that such a law would discourage illegal immigration and help catch criminals. Opponents, including some area police officials, say it would keep the abused and victims of other crimes from coming forward, endangering public safety.”

Thomas Manger, the police chief in Montgomery County, opposes the SAFE Act. At the recent congressional briefing, he recounted a case in which a Latino man broke into his ex-girlfriend’s house, hit her with a metal rod and caused a head injury that required stitches, but she refused to call the police because she was undocumented. After a friend persuaded her to contact authorities, Manger said, the man was arrested and sent to prison, and the woman was able to obtain a special visa.

“The reluctance of folks to come forward because they are undocumented and fear deportation is a much greater public safety problem than having people here who may be undocumented but are not committing other crimes,” Manger said in an interview. “Criminals thrive in neighborhoods where people don’t trust the police. This is a daily struggle for us.”

The SAFE Act–which is actually the un-SAFE Act if you are a person of color walking down the street or an immigrant victim of crime–is disturbing evidence that the Republican policy toward undocumented immigrants remains Arizona-style, Joe Arpaio-inspired enforcement-only.

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:

The Arizona and Alabama anti-immigration laws were failed experiments in state-sanctioned racial profiling.  As the Washington Post documents today, policies like these also make us less safe by separating members of the community from the police who are supposed to protect them.  Passing the SAFE Act would make our nation’s laws worse, not better, and show no growth on behalf of the GOP.  The policies pushed by the Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and the rest of the Joe Arpaio Fan Club are not only bad for the country, but bad for the GOP.