Friday, November 30, 2007
At the Border Policy conference that I am attending in El Paso, Richard Wiles, Chief of the El Paso Police Department had this response to a question about the notion of local law enforcement involvement in enforcing federal immigration laws:
"We recognize that we are one community--both El Paso and Juarez. The relationships, including family, have allowed the community to thrive. We know the majority come across for economic reasons. Some allege that illegals come across to commit crimes. But nothing could be further from the truth. El Paso is one of the safest places in the United States. Immigration is a federal responsibility. We have not been provided with extra resources. We don’t have the resources to take on federal immigration responsibility. What’s next? Will we have to knock on people’s doors to say that you owe back taxes to IRS? I’m not shirking my responsibility with respect to criminal law responsibilities. We know we have to work to prevent crime, but if crime is committed we need to find the perpetrator. We also know that many immigrants are victims of crime. But this is different from enforcing federal immigration laws. We have 1100 officers, and the community must respect and trust us. They can’t be afraid to call us. We don’t want them to worry that if they are a victim and call, that we will ask them for their papers. What worries me the most (I refer to this as blackmail) is that they try to force us to enforce immigration laws by conditioning grant monies on federal enforcement. Don’t tie general grants monies to this type of enforcement."