Sunday, October 21, 2007

Poll: Arizona Evenly Split on Local Police Enforcing Immigration Laws

According to a poll conducted by Bruce Merrill for KAET-TV (the PBS affiliate in Phoenix), people in Arizona are evenly split on whether the local police should find and help detain people who do not have legal immigration status. 50% are opposed to that idea while 46% were in favor. One reason that people do not want police to search for and detain people out of status is that it takes time away from the more important police task of stopping violent crime or patrolling the streets.

There are many other reasons why local police enforcement of immigration laws raises public policy concerns -- such as how the foreign-born have a much lower crime rate than native-born Americans and involving local police in deporting people will scare crime victims and crime witnesses away from reporting crimes to the police. That concern is heightened by how ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in a few cases has gone ahead with trying to deport crime victims and crime witnesses that they heard about from the local police. Any hope that ICE would use their discretion and bolster the community's confidence in reporting crimes to the police appears badly misguided.


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