Monday, November 12, 2007

Arizona Police Seek Immigrants' Help To Find Rapist

Sarah Muench wrote in the Arizona Republic on November 7, 2007 about "Police seek immigrant help on rapist case." Immigrants and experts say that most undocumented immigrants will not report crimes to police for fear of being deported. Police in Arizona know that is the case so they are making efforts to reach out to the undocumented immigrants hoping that someone with information about a rapist will come forward to help protect public safety. The Chandler Police Chief Sherry Kiyler has taken a public stand that their local police will not enforce immigration law, but they are still concerned the public safety is suffering because undocumented immigrants are afraid to tell the police about crimes.

The fears of immigrant crime victims and crime witnesses may be well-founded if the experience of one New Jersey crime victim is considered -- a man who was out of status and a crime victim called the local New Jersey police using 911 to report an ongoing crime. He had not committed any crimes and had a clean record other than being out of status. After using the key information to stop the ongoing crime, the local police then reported the crime victim to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) which is in the process of a two-year effort to deport the crime victim. The possible chilling effect is that despite all the police's promises and efforts to fight crime by asking everyone to share information, undocumented immigrants have good reason to be afraid of reporting crimes to the police.

As a result, it is possible that the safety of everyone in the United States is worsened. Especially if a criminal mistakenly thinks a United States citizen is an undocumented immigrant and attacks the person. Or if a United States citizen is attacked and the only crime witness was an undocumented immigrant -- and it is not clear whether the immigrant would in his right mind be willing to take the chance of providing crucial crime-fighting information yet risk deportation.


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