Friday, June 12, 2009
Robert Behre writes for the Charleston (SC) Post and Courier
North Charleston Police Chief Jon Zumalt joined other chiefs Thursday to highlight their view that immigration reform is critical to maintaining public safety. "From my perspective, I need help," Zumalt said.
Austin (Texas) Police Chief Art Acevedo and Topeka (Kan.) Police Chief Ron Miller joined Zumalt to say that immigration reform is needed to fight crime now. They also said any reform should not rely overly on local police to enforce federal immigration laws. Such a step would only break down trust between police and those they serve, they said.
Zumalt pointed to a March crime in which illegal immigrant Orlando Benitez was shot and killed in the Hawthorne City mobile home park by a gang of thieves who rifled through his pockets as his 5-year-old daughter watched.
Three have been arrested in the case, but Zumalt pointed out that the crime shows how illegal immigrants often are being targeted.
"That's victimization, and I'm not going to allow anyone be victimized in my community, regardless of their status of immigration," he said. "If I'm going to be asked by someone to step in and enforce immigration laws, those folks are going to hide from us and yet they're still going to be victimized. I'm not going to tolerate that."
The chiefs' conference call comes one week before the White House has scheduled a meeting on immigration reform.
While the lack of immigration reform encourages criminals to prey on immigrants, many of whom are Hispanic, the larger community has a stake in stopping this crime, the chiefs said. Click here for the rest of the story.