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.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

When Local Police Help Deport People, Public Safety Suffers

There is another newspaper article that explains how public safety suffers when local police are involved with deporting people. In the Savannah Morning News from Savannah, Georgia, Megan Matteucchi wrote about "Deportation fears hinder police investigations" on October 8, 2007. Garden City Police Chief David Lyons explained that in investigating a homicide, the police are finding few witnesses willing to talk with them. "It's that fear of deportation. It's a major problem for us."

He explained that the fear of being turned in for deportation as a crime witness complicates police efforts to gain trust within the Latino community. Georgia recently enacted the Security and Immigration Compliance Act, which requires turning over anyone jailed for a felony or DUI, but does not require police to check the status of witnesses or crime victims. This sounds vaguely similar to the New Jersey Attorney General's recent directive that requires local police to report the immigration status of people who are arrested (not even jailed!) for an indictible crime or DWI, but forbids checking the status of crime witnesses or crime victims.

In Georgia, local police are finding out that type of policy makes it extremely hard to gain the community's trust and they suspect it is hurting their ability to fight crime and investigate crimes. It isn't a stretch to believe that the policy is hurting public safety, by making it harder to solve crimes and letting criminals go unpunished. If the policy is hurting public safety in Georgia, there is reason to be very concerned that the similar policy in New Jersey may also hurt public safety in New Jersey.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Suppression Motion Victory in NYC Immigration Court

On October 3, 2007, Richard Geduldig of New York City won a case for one of his clients using a suppression motion in immigration court! Immigration Judge Helen Sichel granted the suppression motion based on the proof that two customs and border patrol agents held a Middle Eastern man (from Israel) in illegal investigative detention. The IJ agreed with Richard Geduldig's arguments that:

The agents detained the Israeli man. By having two armed agents come directly up to the man and stand just 2-3 feet away while asking questions and telling him he should stay seated and not get up, the Israeli man reasonably felt that he was not free to leave.

The agents based their decision to detain the Israeli man for impermissible reasons, including race-based questioning. The IJ concluded that the agents had no permissible reason for going straight up to the only Middle Eastern person in the waiting room of around 40 people. The IJ concluded his Middle Eastern appearance was the basis for choosing him -- even though the agent testified that he never practices racial profiling.

Because race-based illegal interrogations (and seizures) are egregious 4th Amendment violations and also because unjustified investigative detention violates certain regulations, the correct decision was to suppress the evidence that the government obtained. As a result, the IJ terminated the case against the Israeli man.

This case shows that government agents seem to be regularly violating people's Fourth Amendment rights. And that it is important for immigration lawyers to file suppression motions in the appropriate cases, which can succeed. In this case, the Israeli man was illegally interrogated while a bus made a stop in Jacksonville, Florida on its way south from New York City.