Last month, the Costa Mesa, Calif., Police Department and the Orange County, Calif., Sheriff’s Department sought federal approval to train officers in immigration law enforcement. According to the Los Angeles Times, the departments will send officers for special training to learn immigration laws and how federal agents address the issue. The move has been criticized by other local police leaders who say immigration enforcement interferes with officers’ abilities to solve local crimes. American City & County asked readers of its e-mail newsletter whether they think local police officers should ask about individuals’ legal status and report illegal immigrants to federal agents. The following are some of their responses.
“It would be an effective system if local agencies could notify the federal agents of illegal activity. However, if you do not have a truckload of illegal immigrants, one or two illegals are of no interest to the federal system. Until states and localities are given the jurisdiction to enforce the laws or the federal agencies are given the resources to enforce the laws, then what is currently occurring with federal enforcement will be the status quo.”
— Albert Newberry, Director of Public Safety, Wytheville, Va.
“If an officer has contact with an illegal immigrant, then the person should be detained and turned over to Customs or Border Patrol. Letting the person go only increases the chances of more crimes, more use of social services, etc.”
— Ken Carr, Municipal Court Supervisor, Las Vegas Regional Justice Center
“Local police agencies have always assisted in enforcement of federal laws and have been recipients of federal training for decades. Furthermore, local governments have benefited from gifts of aviation equipment, armored vehicles for SWAT operations, as well as familiarization and training in the use of other federal agency equipment, with the realization that the line between federal and local jurisdiction were frequently blurred. To single out immigration laws as ‘hands off’ to locals [because] these are federal matters is a cop out (pun intended). After all, isn’t bank robbery a federal matter?”
— Paul Blount, Solid Resources Manager, Bureau of Sanitation, Los Angeles