Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Local NJ Police Turn Informant In For Deportation

A hotly debated issue is whether local police should be cooperating with federal immigration officials to try to deport people they come across. One bizarre facet to turning people in to immigration officials is when the local police turn informants in for deportation. It could possibly hurt the police's chances of getting information and leads from the public if they turn informants in for deportation.

There is a Bergen Record newspaper article on a Brazilian who is being deported after local police turned him in after he called them with information about an ongoing crime that led to two arrests.
On his tip, West Long Branch officers moved in on a Home Depot parking lot and seized two smugglers and a van full of hostages, including the sister. It seemed a superb example of citizen/police collaboration. But then the police turned their attention to Martins - and his immigration status. He admitted overstaying his visa. To his shock, local officers turned him over to immigration officials. Martins, 23, now faces deportation.
Update: as of January 2006, the case is on appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which has no deadline or prediction of when it will issue its decision.

This is in contrast to a story in an Arizona newspaper, where firefighters who helped give food and water to starving and exhausted undocumented immigrants did not detain the immigrants for the three hours that it took ICE to arrive in June 2005. The firefighters and police did not detain the immigrants because:
"The Police Department wants to keep as many lines of trust open as we can to the community," Phoenix police Detective Tony Morales said. "If we go out and sometimes enforce immigration laws, people will not call us to be witnesses or to report serious crimes." (Judi Villa, "Migrants had option to flee firefighters," The Arizona Republic, Jun. 14, 2005)
The story is unclear but it seems that even though the local department did not force the immigrants to wait, they comforted and fed the immigrants, who waited with the police officers for three hours. Then, ICE showed up and perhaps took them in for deportation.

Smuggling is still an area that the police need more information about. According to a Miami Herald story "Judge: Smugglers deserve tougher sentence for Cuban boy's death" (Jan. 24, 2006):
A federal judge served notice Tuesday that he may impose a tougher prison term than federal guidelines require for two Cuban migrant smugglers who pleaded guilty to organizing an illegal voyage that claimed the life of a 6-year-old boy. U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore told Alexander Gil Rodriguez, 25, and Luis Manuel Taboada Cabrera, 29, that he intended to impose a sentence harsher than the nearly six years called for under federal sentencing guidelines - between 57 and 71 months - because the Oct. 12 trip resulted in the death of young Julian Villasuso.
The issue of immigrants being afraid to report crimes to local police is also arising in California, where some local police are trying to get the training and authorization to enforce civil immigration violations while others, like the Los Angeles Police Department, refuse to:
For nearly three decades, the LAPD has enforced a strict policy prohibiting officers from stopping or questioning someone solely based on their immigration status. The policy, known as Special Order 40 and approved by then-Chief Daryl Gates, was part of an effort to improve relations between officers and illegal immigrants, who officials say were often afraid to report crimes or cooperate as witnesses. "It's not a matter of politics. It's a matter of practical policing," said LAPD Assistant Chief George Gascon. "If an undocumented woman is raped and doesn't report it, the suspect who raped that woman, remember, could be the suspect who rapes someone else's sister, mother or wife later." (Richard Winton and Daniel Yi, "Police Split on Plan for Migrant Checks," Los Angeles Times, Jan. 23, 2006)


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