Arizona Law Enforcement Leaders: Immigration Law Harms Public Safety
April 12, 2012
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Washington, D.C. — Displaying exemplary bipartisanship, Republican and Democratic former Arizona attorneys general agreed on the harmful consequences of Arizona’s immigration law on law enforcement’s ability to effectively fight crime.
Former attorneys general Grant Woods, a Republican, and Terry Goddard, a Democrat, discussed the “friend of the court” brief they filed with 42 other former attorneys general, arguing that Arizona’s immigration law weakens public safety and law enforcement. The amicus brief was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court for the April 25 review of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 law.
“As former chief law enforcer, I’m well acquainted with the obstacles faced by local police and prosecutors trying to make communities safer in an environment made increasingly complex by immigration-related issues,” Woods said. “One of the problems of S.B. 1070 is that it turns local law enforcement into federal immigration enforcement. Thus, immigrant victims or witnesses don’t contact the police. That’s an unacceptable consequence.” He added, “I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will rule that this law is unconstitutional and that it is disruptive for local law enforcement to engage in immigration law enforcement.”
“I resent that as a result of S.B. 1070, the state of Arizona has earned a reputation of being a state of intolerance and racial hatred. But that’s not our Arizona. We are a state that has been traditionally inclusive,” Goddard said. He continued, “Former Attorney General Grant Woods and I believe that S.B. 1070 has made Arizona less safe. The law ties the hands of law enforcement and keeps them from doing their job. Moreover, it tries to micromanage the day-to-day operations of police departments and officers on the street and redirects and exhausts already limited law enforcement resources through its use of punitive citizen civil lawsuits. As a consequence, it changes the priorities of police in the field.”
Dr. Warren Stewart, senior pastor of First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix and Board Chair of the National Immigration Forum, brought a moral voice to the discussion. “As a pastor and civil rights leader in a diverse and tight-knit community in Phoenix, Arizona, I have witnessed the consequences of this misguided law. The law undermines basic civil rights because it encourages racial profiling against people just because of the way they look or speak, even if they have been American citizens all their lives. A state law that encourages discrimination is flat-out wrong.” Added Pastor Stewart, “That’s not who we are as a country. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from the Birmingham Jail, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.’ ”