Saturday, April 15, 2006

NYTimes Focuses On Dubious Local Police Enforcement Of Immigration Violations

In an April 14, 2006 article, the New York Times looked at how the "Path to Deportation Can Start With a Traffic Stop (an article by Paul Vitello):
While lawmakers in Washington debate whether to forgive illegal immigrants their trespasses, a small but increasing number of local and state law enforcement officials are taking it upon themselves to pursue deportation cases against people who are here illegally.
This raises the point that when local police call ICE to enforce mere civil immigration violations, the ripple effect on the community is that witnesses, informants, and victims will be less likely to talk to the local police to get the help and protection they deserve. We have already posted blog entries about the problems when local police turn in someone reporting a crime or turn in someone who helps them stop a crime.

For example, police chiefs in Kansas do not want to have the local police involved in enforcing civil immigration violations, as The Hutchinson News noted in an article by Sarah Kessinger titled Local Law Officers Prefer Feds Handle Immigration:
"I don't really want the police department to be involved in that kind of thing," [Dodge City Police Chief John Ball] said. "We deal with these people on a daily basis, and I don't want them to be afraid to deal with the police department." [Garden City Police Chief James Hawkins said,] "If someone is a victim of a crime, we don't really care if they're citizens or not. We just want to investigate it to the best of our ability. This (proposal) might hamper some of that because people might not be so forthcoming with information."
The NY Times article quoted Marianne Yang, director of the Immigrant Defense Project of the New York State Defenders Association, as pointing out the problem that immigrants are often given unusually higher bail levels if they are arrested, no matter how minor the crime.

That may have happened in Putnam County (NY), where eight men playing soccer were charged with the small misdemeanor of criminal trespass but hit with unusually high bail amounts (seven posted $1,000 bail and are now free but the eighth was unable to raise $3,000 for bail and has been in ICE detention ever since).


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