Saturday, August 18, 2007

Newark Mayor Emphasizes Need To Encourage Immigrants To Contact Police

Newark, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker took a commendable stand by emphasizing the need for immigrants to cooperate with police to help fight crime. Crime-fighting and protecting innocent people are so important that local police should not sacrifice their primary goals just to help the immigration authorities pursue mere civil violations by undocumented immigrants.

As Jeffery C. Mays wrote on August 17, 2007 in the Newark Star-Ledger, "Booker won't push to arrest migrants: Mayor says city residents must feel free to aid police," undocumented immigrants could be afraid to cooperate with police if they know the local police might contact the immigration authorities.

The local police must guarantee that there are protections within the local police to prevent them from handing over those who contact the police to fight crime over to the immigration authorities. Elsewhere in New Jersey, a local police force handed over an undocumented immigrant who contacted the police to help them fight crime and was not involved in any criminal activity. Shockingly, the local police handed the man over to the immigration authorities to be deported -- exactly the wrong thing to do if you want immigrants to help fight crime.

Even more shockingly, even though the immigration judge pointed out that there were major public policy concerns with deporting someone who helped the local police fight crime, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has repeatedly refused to stop the deportation proceedings, even after they learned about how the local police turned over someone who helped them fight crime and was not involved in any criminal activity. Both the ICE counsel and the ICE Special Agent within the deportation and removal unit refused to stop the deportation and are fighting the immigrant's appeals.

If ICE is not going to stop the deportation of immigrants who help local police fight crime, then the local police must first build air-tight guarantees that they won't turn over helpful callers for deportation before they report anyone over to ICE.

Nobody knows whether crimes have been committed in Newark today that could have been stopped if only some immigrants who knew about the criminals or their plans had contacted the local police -- but that the immigrants were rightfully afraid that local police might turn them over for deportation even though they were being helpful in fighting crime. Rather than trying to deport all immigrants, to fight crime it may be more productive to build relations with immigrant communities so the 99% of law-abiding immigrants will help the police crack down on crime and catch the criminals (immigrants and citizens alike) living among us.


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