Law Enforcement Support for Immigration Reform
May 14, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the Senate continues debate on immigration reform legislation introduced by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight,” law enforcement leaders from around the country are attending an immigration briefing with White House officials this afternoon. During a press call before the meeting, leaders spoke about the importance of broad, bipartisan immigration reform to help law enforcement keep communities safe, and they countered claims that the Senate bill is too lax on border security.
“I’m firmly convinced that increased border security and comprehensive reform can be achieved together, and by achieving them together, all of our communities are going to be much safer,” said Lawrence Stelma, Sheriff of Kent County, Mich. “Immigration reform really impacts all of our communities, and it makes our communities much safer for all residents.”
“Our border is substantially more secure today than it has ever been. Not only that: This bill says we’re going to do even more,” added Mark Shurtleff, Republican former attorney general of Utah and a National Immigration Forum board member. “Anybody who’s suggesting otherwise just doesn’t know the facts.”
The law enforcement leaders agreed that commonsense immigration reform will strengthen community safety.
“What I’m hearing from the farmers in my area is that they have workers who talk about being victimized. It’s very important to repair our current system, to take away the fear that laborers have, to increase trust in law enforcement and to bring them out of the shadows,” said Sheriff Margaret Mims of Fresno County, Calif. “I’m very encouraged that this bill looks like it might pass. I’m supporting it. From a law enforcement perspective, it’s very important to take that fear away and increase that trust.”
Shurtleff and Former Arkansas Attorney General Steve Clark are among the signatories of a recent letter to Congress from 76 former state attorneys general who support reform. A separate letter was signed by 36 current state attorneys general.
“We’re very concerned about law enforcement not being given the tools to handle dangerous individuals,” said Clark, who is also president of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. “And from the standpoint of business, we would like to see certainty. For us, this is a workforce issue. The question is not why should we be for it but why should we not be for it. This is important to grow our country. Congress needs to act.”
Shurtleff added, “Law enforcement works best when everybody’s involved. When law enforcement officers are in the communities, they have the trust of those with whom they are working, and that trust evaporates when there’s a whole underground class of our society that’s kept that way. This current bipartisan legislation that’s going through the Senate is a giant leap in the right direction because it’s practical, it’s pragmatic. It’s comprehensive and will significantly improve public safety and border security.”
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, underscored the critical support of law enforcement leaders who are part of the Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform network.
“Today’s White House briefing is an important moment in time. These are law enforcement officials who know their communities and who know what public safety means in the 21st century,” Noorani said. “Law enforcement officials see commonsense immigration reform as a fundamental step toward public safety. This is about the importance of trust between law enforcement and the immigrant community.”
To listen to a recording of today’s press call, please click here.